MEPs have backed a resolution calling for the EU to renew peace efforts in the Middle East. The text was passed by 525 votes to 70.
It urges EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and newly appointed EU special representative for the Middle East peace process Fernando Gentilini to make better use of member states' political and institutional expertise in order to achieve lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.
Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group vice-chair Victor Boştinaru said, "no EU funding can be used to directly or indirectly contribute to Israeli settlement construction, which is illegal under international law, or to Israeli activities violating international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestine Territory, while no EU funding to Palestinians can be directly or indirectly diverted to terrorist organisations or activities."
"Arab citizens of Israel have huge potential to play an important role in the peace process, with the joint Arab list as an important actor in the Knesset."
"The growing violence in the whole region generates new security challenges for Israel and further increase the suffering of Palestinians. It also creates shared interests between the Arab states and Israel."
"The nuclear deal with Iran offers unique momentum for the peace process, which should not be missed. Any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved in a regional context, with the involvement of all relevant regional stakeholders."
Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe MEP Hilde Vautmans commented that, "this resolution sets a roadmap to be followed by Mogherini in the coming months. The deteriorating situation in the Middle East and the rise of Daesh require the EU to act quickly. The nuclear deal with Iran shows that the EU is instrumental in finding long-lasting solutions."
Over in Parliament's European United Left/Green United Left (GUE/NGL) group, reactions were mixed, with chair of Parliament's delegation with Palestine Martina Anderson explaining that the group "wanted a stronger-worded resolution. For example, we wanted to demand an end to the occupation of Palestine and the release of political prisoners."
"However, one thing on which I think we are all agreed is that the EU should be a dominant political player in the Middle East peace process and advance meaningful initiatives for a comprehensive solution. We also believe Palestine should be placed under international protection."
"We were informed last week that a peace process is virtually off Israel's foreign policy agenda. This is unacceptable and we must challenge it", she added.
Anderson's Greek colleague Sofia Sakorafa noted that, "five million Palestinians are in refugee camps and there is an apartheid regime in place. Our role should be to make the state of Israel accept the decisions of international organisations. As long as we do not hold Israel accountable, all our actions focused on this area will be a waste of time."
Greens/European Free Alliance MEP Karima Delli underlined that, "European public opinion is starting to realise that the EU not only has a dominant role but, above all, a responsibility to end this conflict and enable the creation of two states."
Greens foreign policy spokesperson Tamas Meszerics added, "the resolution makes a direct call to EU foreign policy high representative Morgherini to act and gives her a broad mandate to push for a peace agreement that guarantees the peace and security of both sides."
"The clear call for an end to the Gaza blockade, which is causing serious suffering to the people stuck in Gaza, must also be pursued."