A key ally making peace with Iran may be the last thing Washington wants to see at this moment, because it erodes the “maximum pressure” it is imposing on the Islamic republic.
But the fence-mending visit to Teheran by the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, while deeply upsetting to the United States and Israel, is a commendable move to rescue the Iran nuclear deal and avoid further worsening of the Israel-Palestine stalemate.
Following its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the US administration announced last week a peace plan for Israel and Palestine, which is conspicuously in favor of and enthusiastically embraced by the Israelis while vehemently opposed by the Palestinians.
In sharp contrast to Washington’s draconian approach to Iran and the region at large, Josep Borrell displayed the reason and flexibility regrettably absent in the current US administration’s policies.
This is particularly impressive considering the EU’s recent show of dissatisfaction with Teheran’s proposals and actual moves to roll back commitments to the 2015 deal, and its subsequent threat to take the issue to the United Nations.
Borrell’s mission was aimed at de-escalating tensions and seeking opportunities for political solutions to the current crisis, according to his office. And the EU foreign policy chief did just that.
Borrell assured his Iranian hosts European countries will do their utmost to protect the nuclear deal, and indefinitely extend the time limit to resolve pending disputes, effectively defusing a burning issue between Teheran and Brussels. That means they will seek to sort things out between themselves, without going to the UN Security Council. In response to such goodwill, Teheran has shown readiness for interaction and cooperation.
Talking about regional peace and the US administration’s prescription, Borrell correctly pointed out the so-called Plan of the Century departed from “internationally agreed parameters”. Instead of imposing an arbitrary designation, he came up with a more fair-minded suggestion: “to build a just and lasting peace, the unresolved final status issues must be decided through direct negotiations between the two parties”.
In spite of the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman’s angry retort labeling Borrell’s language as “threatening”, and his proposals as a whole “regrettable” and “odd”, the EU’s idea of direct negotiations with the Palestinians is undoubtedly the best way for any Middle East peace regime to truly work, and take hold.
Judging from what Borrell has brought to and received from Teheran, it is unlikely the EU will see its role in the region “minimized”, as the frustrated Israeli official assumed.