The debate on the Situation in the Middle East and the Question of Palestine takes place in a moment when hope for the Peace process is renewed by the historic results of the Annapolis conference.
The European Union commends the efforts of President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and their firm commitment to the two-State solution, as laid out in the Road Map and agreed between the parties, resulting in an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.
We congratulate them for the decision to launch immediately meaningful negotiations on all outstanding issues, including all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements. The European Union also welcomes the pledge made by the Parties of reaching an agreement before the end of 2008.
The Annapolis conference represented a turning point for regional and international partners to effectively support a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and, in this context, the European Union welcomes the initiative of President Bush and the wide and broad participation of key international actors.
The European Union reaffirms its determination to support the efforts of reaching comprehensive peace in the Middle East through a lasting and just settlement of the conflict, based on the principle of land for peace, relevant UNSC resolutions, the Road map, the Arab Peace Initiative, and previous agreements reached between the parties.
In order to consolidate the progress achieved so far and to fulfill the potential of the current process, it will be of the utmost importance that the parties take additional steps to meet previous commitments, including those under the Road Map and the Agreement on Movement and Access and that they desist from any actions that threaten the viability of a just and lasting settlement, in conformity with international law.
As the parties stressed in their Joint Statement adopted in Annapolis, stopping all acts of violence and terror is of the utmost importance. The European Union strongly condemns the firing of rockets by Palestinian militias into Israeli territory. While recognizing the Israel´s 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.
We reiterate our call for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier and commend efforts including by partners in the region to that effect. We also repeat our call for immediate release of Palestinian legislators detained in Israel.
The European Union reiterates its full commitment, in agreement with our partners in the Quartet, to continue to support the parties in their efforts towards peace and a two-State solution, offering a wide-ranging contribution including support for developing the Palestinian security sector trough the EU Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories. The European Union is also committed to strengthening its ongoing activities in support of the economic and financial development of the future Palestinian state through the continuation of assistance, and in close cooperation with the Quartet Representative. In this regard, we emphasize the importance of the Paris Donor´s Conference, which represents an essential complement for the political process launched in Annapolis.