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EU Calls for Solution to Mideast Crisis - 2002-04-03

European Union's External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten calls the situation in the Middle East "appalling" and disastrous and says the current diplomatic indecisiveness is a recipe for more bloodshed. On a visit to China to promote economic cooperation, Mr. Patten said it's time to stop talking about peace plans and put one into effect.

Chris Patten strongly supports the recently passed United Nations resolution that calls for an end to violence and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian territory. Pounding the lectern for emphasis, Mr. Patten said bickering over what step to take first is a terrible mistake.

"The alternative is more blood, more death, more mayhem, more destruction of economic prospects and more destruction of the innocent on both sides," he said. Mr. Patten said he recognizes Israel's "legitimate security concerns" but says Israel must also recognize the Palestinian's "legitimate political concerns."

He argues that current Israeli policy denies Palestinians political and economic future and spawns more hatred.

"What you are going to do is breed generation after generation of young men and young women who will get up in the morning and strap bombs to themselves and go off and blow themselves, and alas, innocent men women and children to eternity," he said.

EU Foreign Ministers held an emergency meeting in Luxembourg Wednesday to discuss the Middle East crisis. Earlier, several European governments responded coldly to an Israeli proposal that European diplomats fly Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat into exile. Mr. Arafat is trapped by Israeli forces in his West Bank headquarters.

Tuesday, the EU increased its aid to the Palestinian Authority by about $44 million. The money is supposed to offset the impact of an Israeli blockade and help fund health care and education in the territory.