Summary: Palestinian elections: EU Parliament calls for new government to renounce violence and recognise Israel (2 February 2006: Brussels)
In reaction to the landslide in the Palestinian elections on 25 January, MEPs said they want the EU to remain the biggest aid donor to the Palestinian Authority, on condition that the new Palestinian government renounces violence and recognises the state of Israel.
The new Palestinian parliament and government were urged to commit themselves to peaceful negotiations on a two-state solution in cooperation with the Quartet consisting of the EU, UN, US and Russia and to the present achievements of the Road Map.
In a resolution adopted by a raise of hands, MEPs welcomed the smooth and peaceful running of the elections. The resulting "radicalisation of the political arena in Palestine" was seen by the Parliament as reflecting strong grievances against the past Palestinian administration as well as a reaction to difficult living conditions under occupation. Therefore, the EU should continue to assist Palestinian economic development and the democratic process, while the international community should focus on resolving the many outstanding issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in order to prevent further radicalisation. One of these issues being East-Jerusalem, MEPs called for a stop to the discriminatory treatment of Palestinian residents and for the re-opening of the Palestinian institutions in East-Jerusalem. In this respect, MEPs referred to a report drawn up by the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah on the situation in East Jerusalem, especially on the consequences of the building of the security barrier.
During the debate on 1 February 2006 that preceded the vote, Austrian Minister Winkler for the EU Presidency said:
"The election took place in due order, the result reflects will of people. There is nothing to contest there. The Presidency responded directly and the Council and Quartet have stated identical principles. We made clear international community continues to talk about the recognition of Israel and the conditions for lasting conclusion to conflict. We expect unequivocal support for the principles listed - international support for the Palestinian Authority is linked to espousing these principles. We should remind Israel and the Palestinian Authority of their road map commitments. The new Palestinian Legislative Council will need to work towards peaceful resolution of conflict. The EU is willing to continue to support democracy and building of society in Palestine. We should not rush to conclusions. The EU and others should be willing to continue support, providing the preconditions are fulfilled."
Commissioner Ferrero Waldner said: "We supported these elections with funding and by sending 240 observers. We have made a major commitment to building democratic institutions in the Palestinian territories. Should we now abandon them because we do not like the election results? No, on the contrary, we should call for everyone to respect the outcome. We are ready to work with a government that seeks peace by peaceful means - by which we mean a clear commitment to non-violence, a recognition of the state of Israel and acceptance of the previous commitments of the Palestinian Authority, including the Road Map and the Oslo agreement." She added that the Commission was ready to continue providing support for the Palestinian authority for the interim period until a new government was formed."
Edward McMillan-Scott (EPP-ED, UK), leader of the EP's election observation delegation, said: "We heard the clamour for choice and change in Palestine. We heard the noise of democracy. As one of my colleagues said, the process was perfect, people went freely to polls, polling stations were well organised, Israeli forces mostly kept out of way. The result reflected wish of people. The product reflects despair of Fatah rather than love of Hamas. Certainly the Hamas people we med were not very loveable. We are about to see emergence there and in other part of Arab world of a new fundamentalist, Islamist politics. We must work together, but I worry that we have imparted process but not the values of democracy that go with the process - the rule of law, human rights and respect for minorities."
Veronique de Keyser (PES, BE), Chief EU Election Observer, said: "We now have the difficult task of respecting their choice. They have chosen change and not necessarily radical Islamism. They want make a success of the peace process. We should all avoid the temptation of unilateralism... Whatever circumstances prevail, we should make a distinction between the Palestinian government and the people who should not be held hostage by their electoral choices. There must be a way to cover their basic needs or we are heading for disaster."