Top EU diplomat says Palestinian state needed

The European Union's new foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini speaks as she visits the UN-run Barhain boys school where displaced Palestinian families found refuge on Nov. 8, 2014 in Gaza City.

The European Union’s new foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini speaks as she visits the UN-run Barhain boys school where displaced Palestinian families found refuge on Nov. 8, 2014 in Gaza City.

The European Union lent support Saturday to Palestinian statehood efforts with the bloc’s new foreign affairs chief saying a Palestinian state was needed to prevent a repeat of this year’s Gaza war.

“We need a Palestinian state — that is the ultimate goal and this is the position of all the European Union,” Federica Mogherini said during a short trip to Gaza, devastated by its third conflict in six years. The world “cannot afford” another war in Gaza, she said.

Mogherini’s statement follow Sweden’s official recognition of the state of Palestine last month, becoming the first EU member in western Europe to do so. The move was criticized by Israel and described as ‘premature’ by the United States.

Mogherini’s visit comes against a backdrop of surging Israeli-Palestinian tensions in occupied East Jerusalem where there have been near-daily clashes in flashpoint neighborhoods.

Hamas and Israel fought a 50-day war in July and August which resulted in the deaths of 2,140 Palestinians and more than 70 Israelis.

Mogherini voiced hope that Gaza would avoid another major conflict.

“It is not only the people of Gaza that can’t afford having a fourth war, all the world cannot afford this,” she said.

“We cannot just sit and wait. If we sit and wait it will go on for another 40 years. We have to have action now,” said Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister who recently took over from Catherine Ashton as the top EU diplomat.

Palestinians are seeking to achieve statehood in Gaza and the occupied West Bank with East Jerusalem as the capital.

Asked whether the EU might recognize Palestine as Sweden had, Mogherini said that such a move was “not among the competences” of the 28-nation bloc.

 
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