EU Parliament condemns Israeli settlements

The European Parliament has denounced Israel’s latest settlement push and announced an EU peace initiative. An Israeli group says it is the first time the EU has mentioned alleged Palestinian funding of terrorism.

Symbolbild Israel Siedlungen im Westjordanland (picture-alliance/newscom/D. Hill)


Palestine West Bank holds elections as Gaza Strip left behind

Bitter rivalries between the Hamas and Fatah parties were highlighted by the West Bank’s municipal elections.

Steinmeier navigates tricky visit in Israel

After UNESCO Jerusalem vote, Israel cuts UN funding

Israel approves first new West Bank settlement in two decades

Members of the European Parliament on Thursday attacked Israel’s settlement policy, particularly a law that retroactively legalized Jewish settlements on privately owned Palestinian land.

A “two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states” was the only viable option for lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, MEPs said in a resolution.

The resolution called for Israel to immediately stop construction of new settlements as they were “illegal under international law, undermine the two-state solution, and constitute a major obstacle to peace efforts.”

The resolution condemned all acts of violence and terrorism and all acts of provocation and incitement, including on Israelis.

MEPs signaled their intention to launch a new EU peace initiative to focusing on the two-state solution and to achieve concrete results within a set period.

Five major parliamentary groups voted in favor of the resolution, which singled out the so-called regularization law approved by Israel’s parliament in February.

The Brussels-based American Jewish Committee Transatlantic Institute commended the EU’s resolution, saying previous resolutions lacked balance.

“While we would have wished for even clearer language, we appreciate the important step Parliament has taken to end the counterproductive habit of sheltering the Palestinians from legitimate criticism,” said Director Daniel Schwammenthal.

“By unflinchingly addressing also the Palestinians’ own shortcomings that prevent the creation of an independent Palestinian state – such as incitement, terror, corruption, lack of rule of law, internal division – the EU can play a truly constructive role in the peace process.”

His comments referred to language in the resolution he interpreted as an “indirect condemnation of the Palestinian Authority for paying significant salaries to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons.”

About 600,000 Israeli settlers live in more than 200 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

In December, the Israeli government lashed out over a UN Security Council resolution that condemned Israeli settlement building in the Palestinian Territories and called on Israel to stop immediately.

aw/rt (AFP, dpa)

Watch video26:00

Hanan Ashrawi on ‘Conflict Zone’



Brussels bemoans Russian strategy to weaken EU, backs down on sanctions threat

EU leaders have voiced wariness that Russia is seeking to weaken the bloc, according to EU President Donald Tusk. However, an EU plan to threaten Russia with sanctions for its part in attacks on Aleppo was put on hold.

EU Gipfel in Brüssel - Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel (Reuters/F. Lenoir)

EU leaders rowed back from explicitly threatening Russia with sanctions on Friday, but said they would consider “all available options,” if the bombing of Aleppo continues.

EU President Donald Tusk said that leaders listed Russian “airspace violations, disinformation campaigns, cyber-attacks, interference in political processes in the Balkans and beyond” among the threats posed.

“Given these examples, it is clear that Russia’s strategy is to weaken the EU,” Tusk said after the summit meeting in Brussels ended on Friday morning. “We have a sober assessment of reality and no illusions. Increasing tensions with Russia is not our aim, we are simply reacting to steps taken by Russia.”

Watch video01:42

EU leaders discuss Russia, Brexit

‘Inhuman bombardments’

In a watered-down statement, leaders said the EU “strongly condemns the attacks by the Syrian regime and its allies, notably Russia, on civilians in Aleppo.” It urged an “immediate cessation of hostilities.”

“The EU is considering all available options, should the current atrocities continue,” it added, amending an earlier draft that threatened sanctions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after the summit that the EU “cannot accept these inhuman bombardments.”

“If this kind of violation continues, of course we will envisage all available measures in order to react to this,” she told journalists.

Watch video01:41

EU leaders fail to find consensus on Russia

Meeting with Putin

Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have called for sanctions to remain on the table after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks on Wednesday night in Berlin.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg joined the condemnation of Russia, saying the alliance feared that a Russian aircraft carrier and other ships heading to Syria could be used to increase attacks on Aleppo. Moscow has agreed to an extended humanitarian pause in its Aleppo operations until Saturday.

At their next summit in December, leaders from the 28-member bloc are due to decide whether to renew sanctions over the Ukraine crisis for another six months.

The EU remains divided over policy in dealing with Russia. Countries such as Italy and Greece favor a policy of selective engagement to improve relations with a major economic partner and supplier of energy.

Watch video02:45

Can sanctions against Russia work?

rc/jr (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)




EU Sagas of Greece, Transaction Tax Back in Focus: Brussels Beat

Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis/Bloomberg

Jonathan Stearns
October 9, 2016 — 11:00 PM BST
Share on FacebookShare on Twitter
Two European Union financial sagas return to the spotlight this week. One is Greece. The other is the financial transaction tax being pursued by 10 EU governments.
During much of last year, it would have been reasonable to bet that the FTT initiative had a better chance of succeeding than Europe’s efforts over half a decade to keep Greece in the euro area. Concerns about the health of Deutsche Bank AG and other European lenders add to the reasons why that’s no longer the case — and just how far the tables have turned will be on display when EU finance ministers gather in Luxembourg on Oct. 10-11.
Euro-area finance chiefs will decide on Monday whether Greece, in its third international rescue program since 2010, qualifies for another disbursement of aid. At stake is a 2.8 billion-euro ($3.1 billion) payout tied to Greek overhauls in areas in such as pensions, bank governance and the energy market.
The signal from numerous European officials including EU Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici is that the Greek government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has done enough to win the transfer, which is what remains of a 10.3 billion-euro tranche that euro finance ministers approved in principle in late May.
“I hope that we will be able to conclude on this point,” Moscovici said on Oct. 4. “Major legislative initiatives have been taken in virtually all sectors of the economy.”
Outlook Clouded
The broader outlook for Greece remains clouded. The European Commission expects the Greek economy to shrink in 2016 — marking the eighth annual contraction in the past nine years. And the commission says the Tsipras administration should aim to complete the next bailout review by international budget inspectors as soon as November to help ensure a return to economic growth in 2017.
That target date would be ambitious for any government. The timetable is all the more ambitious when considering that the next review will touch on issues such as labor-market deregulation that are especially sensitive for Tsipras’s Syriza party, which has communist roots.
Two factors that may help provide government rigor:
the prospect of debt relief offered by the euro area
the possibility of the European Central Bank extending its quantitative-easing program to cover the country (ECB Executive Board Member Benoit Coeure could offer signals at an Oct. 12 appearance at a European Parliament hearing on Greece)

Back with the finance ministers, the Austria-led group of 10 EU countries working on a common tax on financial trades faces a make-or-break moment. The other nations are Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.
Financial Crisis
The FTT saga is almost as old as the Greek crisis. Forged in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, it took concrete form in 2011 with a commission plan for levies on stock, bond, derivative and other trading as a way to curb financial speculation and get the industry to make a “fair contribution” — projected at 57 billion euros a year — to state budgets.
The proposal failed the following year to garner the needed unanimous support of EU governments and was revived in late 2012 by a smaller group of national capitals under European “enhanced cooperation” rules that require the participation of at least nine member states.
Four years on, amid persistent worries about the economic and political consequences, lingering question marks over the nitty-gritty and recent market jitters regarding the resilience of Deutsche Bank, the FTT initiative is hanging by a thread.
Start your day with what’s moving markets.
Get our markets daily newsletter.

Enter your email
Sign Up
Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt has said he opposes the plan and wants to persuade partners in Belgium’s coalition government to withdraw, Slovenia and Slovakia are potential dropouts, and German finance chief Wolfgang Schaeuble has said the project may require an accord at global level — where EU allies already shot down the idea. Given that context, Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling has pledged to step down as leader of the FTT group should no decision be reached this week.
Few EU initiatives ever really get killed; they simply get shelved until the political winds change. The FTT plan may be a rare exception.
Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE
Greece Euro
by Taboola Sponsored Links From The Web

Dow Jones Indus. Avg
+0.49 %
18,329.04 +88.55
S&P 500
+0.46 %
2,163.66 +9.92
FTSE 100
+0.75 %
7,097.50 +53.11
Nikkei 225
-0.23 %
16,860.09 -39.01


EU leaders in first summit since Brexit shock

EU leaders will begin talks in Brussels later, seeking a ‘new impulse’ to secure the bloc’s growth and security. Renewed calls for reforms are being echoed across the continent in light of the British referendum.

EU leaders Merkel Renzi and Hollande

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi is being pulled away from the bank’s annual policy conference in Portugal to attend the EU leaders’ summit Tuesday, as officials pledge to strengthen their resolve following last week’s surprise British referendum result.

Draghi is expected to brief his colleagues on the immediate and long-term financial impact for the bloc of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. The outcome has left world financial markets in turmoil and led the Bank of England to stand by to shore up Britain’s finances if required.

As analysts warned that the summit could provide fresh concerns for market volatility, Germany, France and Italy said they wanted the talks to focus on finding answers to the challenges the EU now faces.

‘United Europe’

A day before the summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said in a joint statement that Europe was “united” and that there would be no informal negotiations with Britain on its future relationship with the EU until it triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to begin the formal exit procedure.

British Prime Minister David CameronCameron will stay for just the first day of the summit

Outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly said that won’t happen until his replacement assumes office, likely in September. Cameron will be in Brussels Tuesday to meet with the 27 other EU leaders for the final time before he stands down. On Wednesday, leaders will continue discussions without him.

The three leaders also called for EU countries to agree on concrete projects focusing on growth and security that can be implemented before the end of the year.

Real divisions remain

Tuesday’s two-day summit comes amid fears that the bloc could be permanently fractured by the British public’s decision, as an anti-EU sentiment rises across the bloc. Politicians in several EU states, including the Netherlands, France and Germany have now demanded their own referenda on membership.

Poland has called for the EU to rethink plans for closer political integration and France’s Republicains party has called for the European Commission to be scrapped altogether.

In an interview with Liberation newspaper, the party’s vice president Laurent Wauquiez warned that Brexit was not an exclusively British affair. “If you had the same vote in France, you would have the same result,” he said, adding that Europe is dying and must face reforms.

The EU news site Euroactiv cited Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek as calling on Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to resign, saying he should take responsibility for the UK referendum result.

Meanwhile, Lithuania has called on Britain to clarify whether its decision to leave the EU is “clear and final.” Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said if the decision is final, talks should start without any artificial delays, adding that the current uncertainty was detrimental to millions of Europeans.

Watch video01:40

Diplomacy marathon in Brussels

mm/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)



Opinion: Deafening silence from Brussels

EU leaders are trying to help the pro-European camp in the Brexit referendum by staying out of the debate. That could be a mistake. It also tells us a lot about the state of EU-UK relations, says DW’s Bernd Riegert.

EU und Großbritannien Brexit

Is it fear of the opponent, or a clever tactic? EU leaders have gone missing in the run-up to Britain’s EU referendum. At the moment, trips to the dis-United Kingdom are being avoided like the plague. British EU Commissioner Jonathan Hill was the last EU dignitary that dared travel to London – 14 days ago.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has muzzled himself. He has said that he intends to be “as quiet as possible” on the issue. The same goes for the rest of Brussels’ EU crew. The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, urgently warned of the negative consequences of a Brexit, but he did so in a safe haven – an experts’ conference in Brussels.

The EU – that embarrassing thing in Brussels

The EU, and especially the European Commission, are extremely unpopular in the finicky kingdom. Therefore, Juncker’s communications strategists have decided that the best course of action is to remain as invisible as possible. It must be said that it is shameful that EU leaders lack the confidence to fight for their own interests. How desperate has the current political culture become when public appearances are now considered provocations? Even those fighting for the truculent Brits to remain in the Union are begging for Europe to refrain from supporting them.

Deutschland Europe Forum Jean-Claude JunckerJuncker has called the Brexit possibility a ‘catastrophe,’ but refuses to campaign in the UK

British Prime Minister David Cameron prefers to fight it out in televised debates on his own. He is playing the role of the lone superhero that tamed the European monster and wrestled the best possible deal for oppressed Brits out of Brussels’ claws. Appearances by the bad boys from Brussels would only confuse this ridiculous narrative.

Meanwhile, debates on the unusual island have become so utterly irrational that clear messages from the EU would likely be counterproductive. Facts only serve to get in the way. Nevertheless, it is still rather perplexing that the European Union has decided to duck the debate in a referendum that is specifically about the Union itself. If the British people decide to leave the Union, everyone will say that it was the result of EU inactivity, or perhaps overactivity.

EU Commission President Juncker has given up trying to understand the logic of the whole debate. He recently told the EU’s core members that he doesn’t “give a damn” about criticism of his meddling, or disengagement on the issue. The statement smacks of desperation.

Großbritanien Nigel Farage Brexit Bus The competing campaigns to leave the EU or stay a part of it are neck and neck according to the latest polls

Should we be ashamed?

When the dust settles after the explosion that will be the June 23 referendum, people in Brussels will have to ask themselves if remaining silent was really the right strategy. Is it not more forthright to state one’s opinion, even it is not asked for? Ultimately, the vote is about the fate of the European Union, and not just about one country’s domestic interests.

One would like to scream, “Show more courage!” to the EU’s leaders. Make a clear statement! The European Commission is proud that they have drastically curbed regulatory proposals compared to previous Commissions. Problems and conflicts are stretched, delayed and postponed. EU member states that are on the road to re-nationalization are let off easy. Except Poland.

There is really no other way, for the credibility of the EU is on the line when it comes to fights over the rule of law. The Juncker Commission’s mega-project, its investment program, has failed to take off. Representatives in Brussels are playing a kind of political pick-up-sticks: whoever makes the first move, loses. That has to do with the Brexit dilemma, but not only.

To stand up loud and clear for more Europe is out – tiptoeing is the order of the day. Even EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has admitted to silencing himself – something that is very much out of character for him. Is that really the right plan of action to convince Eurosceptics? One who is ashamed of doing the right thing can excite no one.

Have something to say? Add your comments below.


Refugees, Russia and ‘IS’ on NATO agenda in Brussels

In Brussels, NATO ministers intend to finalize their biggest military buildup since the Cold War in response to Russia. The alliance is also inviting Montenegro to become its 29th member.


NATO foreign ministers have convened for two days to discuss the daunting array of security challenges facing the alliance: from Afghanistan to the Middle East and North Africa to a rearmed and resurgent Russia. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said ministers would address “all the important issues.”

“We will discuss how NATO can do more to project stability … and at the same time address how NATO can continue to adapt to a more assertive Russia to find the right balance between defense and dialogue,” he told reporters ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

Jens Stoltenberg Stoltenberg says ministers will discuss how the alliance can better ‘project stability’

On Thursday, the ministers will also officially welcome Montenegro as a new member-designate, subject to approval by the legislatures of NATO states. Russia opposes the former Yugoslav republic of Montenegro’s joining.

Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic told representatives of the existing 28 member states in Brussels that he hoped for speedy ratification of Montenegro’s membership.

“It is our expectation that the allies would finalize ratification as soon as possible, so that, in mid next year, Montenegro would become a fully fledged member of the alliance,” Djukanovic said.

‘Deter and dialogue’

The ministers will meet again in July in Warsaw to sign off on boosting troops to Central and East European members as part of NATO’s “deter and dialogue” strategy. NATO says the deployment should reassure states that the alliance will not leave them in the lurch should Russia initiate hostilities. In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and NATO also accuses the Kremlin of supporting the civil war in the Donbass region.

The ministers planned to have a “very sober discussion on dealing with Russia,” Douglas Lute, the US permanent representative to NATO, said on Wednesday, adding that the Kremlin “essentially has thrown out the rulebook.” Lute said: “This is not the predictable partner we thought we had.”

Also on the agenda are the EU’s response to displacement in the Middle East and Africa, the “Islamic State” and the situation in Libya, which has not regained stability since a NATO intervention helped topple dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini will join the NATO ministers on Friday. Twenty-two of the 28 NATO states are EU members.

mkg/msh (AFP, AP)


Brussels death toll revised down as Dutch reveal pre-attack warning

It’s been revealed that the FBI told the Dutch about its concerns over the Brussels suicide bombers before the deadly attacks. Controversy continues over whether Belgium could have stopped the attacks, which killed 32.

Belgien Brüssel Flughafen Zaventem nach Anschlag Sicherheit Untersuchung

The Netherlands said on Tuesday the FBI warned it about the Brussels suicide bombers six days before the attacks. The Dutch said they passed the information on to their Belgian counterparts.

Dutch Justice Minister Ard van der Steur said the FBI’s report contained “notification of Ibrahim El Bakraoui and his brother Khalid’s criminal backgrounds and Khalid’s terrorist background.”

The following day “the issue came up during bilateral contact between the Dutch and Belgian police,” said Van der Steur.

“The radical background of both the brothers was discussed,” he told parliament.

Airport to stay shut

Brussels airport will remain closed on Wednesday, eight days after suicide bombers killed dozens of travelers and badly damaged the airport’s departure hall.

When the airport will reopen for partial service is unclear, though it is expected to be months before it is fully operational.

Belgian’s health minister, meanwhile, lowered the death toll from 35 to 32, citing an overlap due to some victims having dual nationality.

The figure does not include the three suicide bombers, two of whom struck at the airport, while the third blew himself up a short time later at a busy metro station.

Watch video01:49

Manhunt renewed after suspects release

The victims, who have now all been identified, included 17 Belgians and 15 foreigners – among them German, British, Chinese, Dutch, French, Italian, Swedish and US nationals.

Hundreds of airport employees participated in a large-scale test run Tuesday to determine if partial service could be resumed on Wednesday.

No explanation was given, but it was determined that the airport was not ready to reopen.

The authorities are now reviewing the results of the test run, according to airport spokeswoman Anke Fransen.

“We hope to reach a decision on a partial reopening of the airport in the course of (Wednesday) morning,” she said.

Watch video01:43

Q&A: Brussels one week after the attacks

Brussels Airport chief executive Arnaud Feist had earlier warned that it could be “months” before the airport was fully operational again.

‘Very thin line’

Controversy continues to surround the March 22 attack and the ongoing investigation. On Monday,police released Faycal Cheffou, who had been suspected of being the third would-be suicide bomber at the airport, whose vest didn’t explode.

Prosecutors charged him with “terrorist murder,” but subsequently concluded he was not the suspect.

On Tuesday, however, Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur cast doubt on the decision to release Cheffou.

“There is a very thin line between an agitated radical and a radical recruiter, and in this case the judge probably didn’t want to cross that line,” Mayeur said.

Cheffou’s lawyer Olivier Martins said his client was released for good reason.

“He gave an alibi based on telephone analysis which showed that he was at home at the time of the attacks,” Martins said.