I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia , the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union expresses its solidarity with the Palestinian people in this difficult moment. It encourages the Palestinian leadership to demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility in ensuring the regular functioning of Palestinian institutions. The European Union considers that it is essential that a legitimate leadership continues to resolutely pursue the path towards peace in the Middle East.
At the moment, there is a window of opportunity to revive the Middle East peace process. We therefore call on all parties to demonstrate the necessary courage and leadership to break through the present deadlock, put an end to the hostilities and re-engage in a serious political process as set out in the Road Map.
The European Union remains committed to the two-State solution as laid out in the Roadmap and agreed between the parties, which would result in a viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State existing side by side in peace with an Israel living within recognised and secure borders.
The European Union has welcomed the Knesset vote on 26 October to support an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza strip and part of the northern West Bank. The European Union expresses its willingness to support such a withdrawal as a first step in the overall process, in accordance with the conditions laid out by the European Union in March 2004, amongst which, that it takes place in the context of the Roadmap. The European Union also recalls the Quartet statement of 22 September.
The European Union has endorsed the short-term programme of action in the fields of security, reforms, elections and economy proposed by the High Representative. It underlines in particular its readiness to support the electoral process in the Palestinian Territories. We call on the Palestinian Authority to organise elections in accordance with international standards under the authority of an independent electoral commission and upon Israel to facilitate these elections.
The European Union stresses that these initiatives will need full cooperation from and between the parties, as well as coordination with other partners involved, especially in the region – in particular with Egypt – and within the Quartet. We reiterate our readiness to support the Palestinian Authority in taking responsibility for law and order.
Finally, Mr. President, in the current difficult circumstances, the European Union will work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community to contribute to realizing the aspirations of the Palestinian people and achieving a two state solution, with both Israel and Palestine living side by side peacefully within secure and recognised borders. We wish to stress that both parties can count on the undiminished support of the European Union on the path towards a peaceful, durable and just settlement of the conflict. We are convinced that this goal can be achieved for both Israelis and Palestinians. Moreover, we are convinced this will contribute to peace in the region.
Thank you, Mr. President.