Thank you for giving the floor to the European Union.
The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Serbia*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Albania, the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
While the Arab world is witnessing fundamental change, the need to ensure meaningful progress on the Middle East peace process remains as important as ever.
The European Union wishes to stress once again the central role of the Quartet in this context and to express its full support for the ongoing Quartet process. It reaffirms its commitment to all elements of the Quartet statement of 23 September 2011. The Quartet, meeting on 11 April, renewed its call to the parties to meet those objectives. Negotiations are the best way forward, if there is to be a lasting resolution to the conflict. The European Union therefore welcomes the expected exchange of letters between the parties initiated on 17 April, and urges both sides to build on the momentum of the current contacts in order to resume direct talks. A bold and decisive demonstration of political leadership is needed from both sides.
The European Union reaffirms its commitment to a two state solution. The legitimacy of the State of Israel and the right of Palestinians to achieve statehood must never be called into question. The European Union reaffirms its clear positions on negotiations, with regard to parameters, principles and issues, including the conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in December 2009, December 2010, May, July and October 2011 and January 2012 as well as the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union in the UN Security Council on 21 April 2011. The European Union also reiterates its support to the Arab Peace Initiative.
The European Union calls on the parties to demonstrate their commitment to a peaceful solution by actions that can build confidence and create an environment of trust necessary to ensure meaningful negotiations leading to a comprehensive and lasting peace. At this critical juncture it is more important than ever for the parties to refrain from provocative actions which undermine the prospects for continuing the dialogue re-established in January and to respect their obligations under the Roadmap. This includes incursions by Israeli forces into Area A of the West Bank which put in jeopardy the success of Palestinian institution-building efforts and the mutual obligation to end all forms of incitement.
The European Union reiterates its support for the Palestinian Authority’s institution-building efforts and its recurrent budget, to which the EU is the largest donor. The continuing financial difficulties of the Palestinian Authority risk putting in danger the major achievements it has made so far, not least in providing security in the West Bank. Therefore the European Union underlines the necessity of other donors’ identifying and transferring funds to assist the PA.
However, the majority of the Palestinian Authority’s budget is met by its own customs and taxation revenues. The European Union therefore continues to urge for swift implementation of improvements, currently discussed between the parties, to the mechanism by which these are collected and transferred, which should be transparent and predictable. Furthermore, monthly transfers of these revenues are an obligation.
Among the factors which will help the Palestinian economy become sustainable is the relaxing of Israeli restrictions on access to land, water, raw materials and export markets. Area C of the West Bank constitutes the major land area for the Palestinians. Ensuring access will help the Palestinian Authority achieve greater economic potential. The EU calls on the parties to cooperate to facilitate the social and economic development of Area C, which is of critical importance for the viability of a future Palestinian state.
The European Union reiterates that settlements, the separation barrier where built on occupied land, demolition of homes and evictions are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible. The European Union urges the government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities, in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank and including natural growth, and to dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001. The European Union is deeply concerned by the approval of new construction in a range of settlements, such as Shvut Rachel, Gilo and Har Homa. The European Union is also deeply concerned by retroactive approvals which have been granted for housing built without previous Israeli authorisation in settlements and outposts. The European Union is following developments with regard to Migron – the largest such outpost – closely.
As regards Gaza in particular, the European Union followed with concern the recent escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel. The situation in and around Gaza remains fragile and unsustainable as long as the West Bank and Gaza are not reunited under the legitimate Palestinian Authority adhering to the PLO commitments. The European Union calls for the complete cessation of all rocket attacks on Israel and all other forms of violence. The European Union calls for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009) and the Agreement on Movement and Access, the full respect of international humanitarian law and for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings. Despite some welcome progress, Israel needs to take further meaningful and far-reaching steps allowing for the reconstruction and economic recovery of the Gaza Strip. The European Union calls for a solution addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
The EU has consistently called for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind President Mahmoud Abbas as an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two state solution.
Regarding Syria, the European Union welcomes the unanimous adoption of UNSC resolution 2043 on 21 April establishing the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS). The EU calls for the immediate implementation of Resolutions 2042 and 2043 and urges the Syrian government to ensure the effective operation and deployment of the mission and allow freedom of movement, access and communication. The European Union reaffirms its full support to the UN-League of Arab States Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s six point plan and calls upon the Syrian government to immediately and visibly implement all elements of the Special Envoy Plan, as it committed to do so in its 25 March 2012 and 1 April 2012 communications to Special Envoy Annan.
The European Union remains deeply concerned about the situation in Syria and the fragility of the cessation of violence with reports of the use of heavy weaponry in civilian areas. The EU calls on the Syrian government to show a visible change by withdrawing all troops and heavy weapons from population centres to their barracks to facilitate a sustained cessation of violence. It calls upon all parties in Syria to cease immediately violence in all its forms. The European Union reiterates its concerns about the humanitarian situation in Syria and urges the Syrian authorities to grant immediate, unimpeded and full access of humanitarian organisations to all areas in Syria to deliver humanitarian assistance including medical care.
Thank you Ms President.
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.