I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe associated with the European Union – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Associated Countries – Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, as well as the EFTA countries of the European Economic Area – Iceland and Liechtenstein align themselves with this statement.
Until a few days ago there had been six weeks without Israeli civilian casualties inside Green Line Israel. This period of calm was shattered by renewed acts of terror. The European Union condemns unreservedly the suicide bomb attacks in Umm el-Fahm and Tel Aviv, in which 6 Israelis were killed and many more injured.
Likewise our hearts go out to the Palestinian children and their parents who suffered a bomb attack in the schoolyard of Zeif Yatta Elementary School in Hebron. Deliberately targeting children in their school is a particularly odious act.
The European Union deplores that civilians on both sides continue to suffer from violence: Horrors of terror for ordinary people in the streets of Israel, brutality of occupation for the ordinary people in the Palestinian territories.
The European Union is deeply concerned by the deployment of Israeli tanks in Ramallah and in the north of the Gaza strip and by the IDF shelling and destruction of Chairman Arafats headquarters. Restricting freedom of movement of the Palestinian leadership does not contribute to fighting terror; to Israels legitimate security concerns; or to the necessary process of Palestinian reforms supported by the international community, including not least the Quartet. Israel must stop the occupation of Chairman Arafats headquarters and Chairman Arafat must do his utmost to stop the terror.
These events take place at a time where there has been some hope that resumed contacts between the parties could restart the political process. The European Union strongly calls on both sides to show their commitment to peace by acting with maximum restraint. Force cannot defeat force.
The European Union has therefore welcomed the promise by Fatah that it will prevent any attacks against Israeli civilians and has called on other Palestinian groups to do likewise. We strongly repeat that call. The terrorists must not be allowed to derail the aspirations of the many who support peace in the Middle East.
The European Union recalls the recent statement by the Middle East Quartet from its meeting on 17 September in New York in which the violence and terror in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was deplored and condemned, and in which the expectations of the international community with respect to the return to the path of peace in the conflict was laid out.
The European Union once again confirms its strong will to stand by those who seek permanent peace and security. We will continue to work relentlessly with the regional parties and within the Middle East Quartet towards that goal.
I thank you, Mr. President.