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EU Urges New Impetus to Mideast Peace Process - 2001-10-21

A European envoy warns that the deteriorating Israeli-Palestinian conflict calls for a new political impetus to rekindle the peace process.

Miguel Moratinos, the European Union special envoy to the Middle East, says the situation in the region is "serious and extremely dangerous."

Mr. Moratinos flew to Damascus Sunday from Beirut, to meet with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa. He said the European Union is closely involved in efforts to put an end to the cycle of violence in the region.

The EU special envoy flew on to Israel late Sunday and is expected to visit the Palestinian territories.

The assassination of Israeli Cabinet Minister Rehavam Zeevi last week by Palestinian militants has resulted in heavy Israeli military incursions into Palestinian territories.

Despite the warnings from Mr. Moratinos, political analyst and Professor Walid Kazziha of the American University in Cairo, says such warnings do not carry the kind of weight they would have, if they were coming from the United States.

"The Europeans do play a subsidiary role, and that's the context in which the U.S. has always wanted them and I think the Israelis have always looked at the Europeans in that light," said Prof. Kazziha. "But, if that were coming out of America then that could mean something but, from the Europeans, it's really not going to go anywhere."

President Bush has endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian state and the U.S. State Department has demanded that Israel stop its incursions into Palestinian territories.

While Mr. Moratinos' trip is focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict he is also discussing the possible ramifications for the Middle East of the September 11th terrorist attacks in the United States.