I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia as well as Ukraine align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union welcomes the present opportunity for progress on Israel-Palestinian peace. We commend the efforts of President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert and encourage them to take courageous steps in their political dialogue. This dialogue must achieve concrete results, leading to meaningful final status negotiations and to their shared goal of a two-state solution with the establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.
In this context, we express our full support to the upcoming international meeting as a crucial opportunity for regional and international partners to effectively support a comprehensive Middle East Peace Process.
In order to consolidate the progress achieved so far and to fulfil the potential of the current process, the European Union stresses the need for the parties to desist from any action that threatens the viability of a just, lasting and comprehensive solution, and the need for them to enhance the cooperation on the ground.
Stopping all acts of violence and terror among the parties is of the utmost importance for the peace process to succeed. The European Union remains concerned by civilian casualties occurring during Israeli incursions in to Palestinian areas. The European Union strongly condemns the firing of rockets by Palestinian militias into Israeli territory. While recognizing Israels right to self-defense, the European Union calls on Israel to exercise utmost restraint and underlines that action should not be disproportionate or in contradiction with international law.
The European Union acknowledges the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. We reiterate our demand that Israel stop and reverse the construction of the separation barrier in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around Jerusalem, which diverges from the Armistice Line of 1949 and is contrary to the relevant provisions of International Law.
Israeli settlement activities in and around East Jerusalem as well as in the rest of the West Bank are also of particular concern. These activities are contrary to international law and to Israeli commitments under the Road map and must be stopped. The European Union will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders other than those agreed by the parties. In this context, the European Union notes its serious concerns about the intentions of the Israeli authorities regarding the E1 area and we call on Israel to desist from implementing its plans there.
The European Union continues to be concerned by the serious and violent events in Gaza, that we condemned in the strongest terms. The European Union reiterates its grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza. It underlines the importance of uninterrupted emergency and humanitarian assistance without obstruction and calls for the continued provision of essential services. The potentially severe humanitarian consequences of any decision by Israel to reduce the supply of electricity and fuel to Gaza is a matter of deep concern. The European Union recalls the utmost importance of the full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access, and calls on the parties to work urgently for the reopening of crossings in and out of Gaza for both humanitarian reasons and commercial flows.
The European Union once again urges the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier, and would like to commend efforts including by partners in the region to that effect. We also repeat our call for the immediate release of Palestinian legislators in Israeli custody.
To conclude allow me to stress that the European Unions resolve to contribute to the resolution of this conflict as part of bringing peace and stability to the Middle East remains as strong as it has ever been.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.