EU's Tusk Pledges 'Unprecedented' Support for Israeli, Palestinian Peace

After talks in Brussels with Israel's President Rivlin, Tusk said 'a lasting peace in the region remains a top priority' for the EU.

European Council President Donald Tusk meets Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem in June 2016.
Mark Neiman/GPO

The European Union stands ready to provide Israel and the Palestinians with massive political, economic and security support as part of any peace agreement between them, a top official said Tuesday.

European Council President Donald Tusk said the EU will "back up a peace deal with an unprecedented package of cooperation and support to both Israel and the future state of Palestine."

Tusk said after talks in Brussels with Israel's President Reuven Rivlin that "a lasting peace in the region remains a top priority" for the EU.

EU foreign ministers expressed determination on Monday to throw the bloc's weight behind Middle East peace moves and a possible international conference before the end of the year.

They invited EU agencies to present proposals "including on economic incentives, without delay."

Later Tuesday, Rivlin visited the headquarters of the NATO defense alliance for talks with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. The visit follows a May decision by NATO's 28 member nations to allow Israel to open a mission to the alliance.

Violent Islamic extremism is considered one of the main security threats to NATO countries and their partners, and Stoltenberg said the alliance and Israel have begun discussions on how to better cooperate. For more than 20 years, the Jewish state has been an active participant in the Mediterranean Dialogue, a security forum that brings it, NATO and Arab countries together.

"It is vital that countries that share the same values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law stand united against hate and terrorism, and that we stand as one in defense of our open societies," Stoltenberg said following the talks.

"Today the whole free world faces the threat of extremism, of hatred and of terrorism and violence," said Rivlin. "It makes our close cooperation not just important but essential."