Catherine Ashton, the Foreign Policy Chief of the European Union, is on her way to Israel and Palestine Wednesday, and told reporters as she headed to the region, “There is no alternative to a negotiated peace agreement”.Ashton continued, “urgent progress is now needed to achieve a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace, and the EU will continue to support all efforts toward that goal.”

Many Palestinians have lost faith in the negotiating process, as previous peace agreements have not been adhered to by the Israeli government, and Palestinian negotiators lack political, economic or military power to leverage their position in the talks.

Negotiations that began in September ended in less than a month, when Israeli negotiators refused to agree to a temporary freeze on settlement construction – this, despite acknowledgement that construction of settlements on Palestinian land is a violation of past signed agreements and Israel’s obligations under international law.

Palestinian officials, including President Mahmoud Abbas, have said they would dismantle the Palestinian Authority if negotiations fail. And Israeli minister Ben Eliezer with the Labor Party said this week that he will quit the government if no progress is made on the talks in two months.

Ashton plans to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian officials this week, urging a negotiated settlement instead of trying to pressure Israel to adhere with international law.