I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe associated with the European Union, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the associated countries Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, and Iceland and Liechtenstein, EFTA countries members of the European Economic Area, endorse this statement.
The Union is extremely preoccupied by the gravity of the situation in the Middle East. It takes every opportunity to attempt to contribute to the reduction of violence. The extreme gravity of the situation in the Middle East requires each side to face up to its responsibilities: to put an end to the violence is the first imperative.
We are meeting today in Special Emergency Session to address two drafts resolution. One of them has been presented to the Security Council last Friday and I expressed the position of the European Union on the situation in the Middle East on this occasion.
Last Friday and Saturday, the Heads of State and Government of the European Union convening in Laeken addressed the situation in the Middle East and made an important statement in this regard. It recalled that the only basis for peace is UN Resolutions 242 and 338 and, on the one hand, the reaffirmation and full recognition of Israel’s inalienable right to live in peace and security within internationally recognized borders and, on the other hand, the establishment of a viable, independent and democratic Palestinian state and an end to the occupation of Palestinian territories.
The Heads of State and Government underlined that Israel needs the Palestinian Authority and its elected President, Yasser Arafat, as a partner to negotiate with, both in order to eradicate terrorism and to work towards peace. Its capacity to fight terrorism must not be weakened. The European Union renews its appeal to the Palestinian Authority to do everything to prevent acts of terrorism.
The European Union recalled the following pledges demanded of the parties:
The Palestinian Authority: the dismantling of Hamas’ and Islamic Jihad’s terrorist networks, including the arrest and prosecution of all suspects; a public appeal in Arabic for an end to the armed intifada.
The Israeli Government: withdrawal of its military forces and a stop to extrajudicial executions; the lifting of closures and of all the restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people; a freeze on settlements and an end to operations directed against Palestinian infrastructures.
Implementation of these commitments requires resolute action by both the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Moreover, immediate and unconditional implementation of the Tenet cease-fire plan and the Mitchell Committee recommendations remains the only way to resume political dialogue.
The European Union remains convinced that setting up a third-party monitoring mechanism would serve the interests of both parties. It is prepared to play an active role in such a mechanism.
With regard to the second draft resolution, I wish to reiterate that the European Union welcomed the venue of the Conference on the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention. There can be no doubt in our opinion that international humanitarian law must be observed by all parties involved in an armed conflict and that the protection of civilian populations is an absolute necessity. The Fourth Geneva Convention is a vital instrument for ensuring that this protection is afforded in all circumstances. With regard to the territories occupied by Israel since the 1967 war, the European Union’s consistent position is that the provisions of the Fourth Convention apply to them and must be respected.
The European Union participated in this Conference with the aim of arriving at a better application of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and thus contributing to an improvement in the humanitarian situation on the ground, without thwarting efforts to secure the resumption of the peace process. The European Union believes that we should not only reaffirm the universality of the Fourth Convention and reiterate the obligations of the Contracting Parties, but also launch a wider call for all sides to halt all acts of violence against the civilian population and to cease supporting or tolerating such acts.
We believe that the text of the declaration adopted by the Conference is a good reflection of the objectives put before us at the beginning.
Resolute and concerted action by the European Union, the United Nations, the United States, the Russian Federation and the Arab countries most concerned is essential and urgent. The European Council has mandated High Representative Javier Solana to continue appropriate contacts to this end. The European Union will continue its efforts to ensure that both States, Israel and Palestine, can live side by side in peace and security.
I thank you, Mr. President.