I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this statement.
First of all, let me thank you, Mr. President, for convening this debate.
The European Union expresses its full support for the Annapolis process and its commitment to support the parties in their negotiations with a view to achieve a two-state solution. A just and sustainable solution to all aspects of the Middle East Peace Process can only be achieved through negotiation. Despite the difficulties that the process has recently experienced, the EU welcomes the intention of the parties to resume their negotiations and looks forward to an early meeting of Quartet principals.
The EU is deeply concerned about the recent violence in Gaza and southern Israel, especially the civilian casualties. It condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack on a seminary in Jerusalem on 6 March and the continued rocket attacks. While recognizing Israels legitimate right to self defence, the EU calls for an immediate end to all acts of violence.
The EU stresses the need for swift and tangible results on the ground in order to sustain negotiations. Action from both sides to implement their Roadmap obligations is vital in order to retain the confidence and support of the Israeli and Palestinian populations, the region and the wider international community. The EU is deeply concerned about the recent Israeli announcement to extend the settlement of Givat Ze’ev. The EU reiterates that settlement building anywhere in the occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law. Settlement activity prejudges the outcome of final status negotiations and threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution. The EU therefore urges Israel to take immediate action in particular on settlements and outposts. It calls on the Palestinian Authority to make further efforts to implement its obligations with regard to security, where needed in cooperation with the Israeli authorities. In this regard the EU remains ready to strengthen and extend its EUPOL COPPS mission in order to support the reinforcement and reform of the Palestinian security forces.
The EU considers that the violent confrontations in and around Gaza have serious security implications. The EU is deeply concerned by the unsustainable humanitarian situation in Gaza and calls for the controlled and sustained reopening of all crossings in and out of Gaza for both humanitarian reasons and commercial flows. While reconfirming in this context the Council Conclusions of January 2008, it extends its full support to efforts to facilitate a peaceful solution to the present crisis. This solution should provide for a lasting period of quiet. The EU reiterates its readiness to resume its monitoring mission at Rafah according to the Access and Movement agreement of November 2005.
The EU recalls its commitment at the International Donors Conference for the Palestinian State last December in Paris to support efforts to build the future Palestinian State in accordance with the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan. For its implementation it calls for Israeli cooperation. The EU expresses its full support to the upcoming International Conferences on Investments and economic revival in Bethlehem and in Support of Palestinian Civil Police and Rule of Law in Berlin. Mr. President,
The EU continues to stand by its strong support for the Government and institutions of Lebanon in carrying out their missions in order to preserve Lebanons stability, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The EU expresses concern about the ongoing political deadlock in Lebanon and deterioration of the security situation.
The EU reiterates its strong support for the plan unanimously adopted by the Arab foreign ministers in seeking to broker a resolution to the political crisis and commends the continued efforts by the Arab League Secretary General, Amr Moussa. It urges the parties in Lebanon to proceed, as a first step to the immediate holding of the Presidential election prior to the Arab Summit. The success of the plan requires all actors to play a constructive role. The EU recalls that EU High Representative has been designated to spearhead the EU efforts with Arab countries in this respect.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.