Summary: EU Parliament – Palestinian elections: MEPs hail success of democratic process but urge Hamas to take path of peace (26 January 2006: Brussels)
A delegation of MEPs in Jerusalem and others at a meeting in Brussels gave their views today on Wednesday's elections in the Palestinian territories. The polls were held to have been conducted properly but Hamas, which was in the lead as the results came in, was urged to renounce violence and recognise Israel.
EP delegation says conduct of Palestinian election was "a model for the wider Arab region"
The European Parliament delegation sent to observe the Palestinian elections says the elections were well run - and that their conduct provides a model for the wider Arab region.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference in Jerusalem, EP Vice President, Edward McMillan-Scott (EPP-ED, UK), who chaired the delegation of 27 MEPs, said:
“The clamour for choice and change was on the streets in Palestine; we heard and we welcome the noise of democracy. The political environment has changed and the Quartet, which meets on Monday, will need to take stock. As we predicted after last year’s presidential vote, the Palestinian people have provided a model for the wider Arab region in the conduct of this election. The parliamentary dimension of the EU’s neighbourhood has been amplified, in particular through the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly in which members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Knesset uniquely participate.”
The parliamentary delegation has endorsed the preliminary finding of the wider EU Election Observation Mission that the elections were open and well-administered. This mission was also led by an MEP, Veronique de Keyser (PES, BE). Follow the link below for full details of the EU EOM initial statement.
(For information: the Quartet is made up of four international partners to the Middle East Peace Process – the US, UN, EU and Russia.)
Cautious welcome in Brussels for outcome of Palestinian elections
At a meeting of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels on Thursday morning, MEPs and External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner reacted cautiously to the results of the Palestinian elections. The Commissioner termed the elections a success in that they had been more or less peaceful, while members of the committee called on Hamas to strive for a peaceful co-existence with Israel and to recognise Israel's right to exist.
Mrs Ferrero-Waldner said that the EU focus should not be on parties but on principles, adding that Hamas was aware that it cannot be both a terrorist organisation and part of the Palestinian Authority. The situation is difficult and much will depend on how Hamas interacts with other parties. She added that the outcome of the elections was now on the agenda of the Council, but that a "subtle" approach was called for. The Commissioner congratulated Israel for having allowed balloting to take place in East Jerusalem.
Elmar Brok (EPP-ED, DE) chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, stressed the need for Hamas to renounce violence. If it did not, he said, the EU should cut off its funding for Palestine. Emilio MENÉNDEZ del VALLE (PES, ES) also stressed the need for Hamas to foreswear the use of violence and called for an intelligent, tactful and flexible approach in order to integrate Hamas into the political framework. Pawel PISKORSKI (EPP-ED, PL) added his voice, calling for Hamas to refrain from violence and to recognise Israel's right to exist. Michel ROCARD (PES, FR) warned that Hamas should not be pushed too hard and too fast, pointing out that Hamas itself was divided and that part of it had not wanted to take part in the elections.