– As delivered –
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
1. The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*and Montenegro* the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, align themselves with this statement.
2. As regards the Middle East Peace Process, the European Union firmly believes that now is the time to take bold and concrete steps towards peace. The parties must engage in direct and substantial negotiations without pre-conditions in order to achieve a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending all claims. The European Union underlines the urgency of renewed, structured and substantial peace efforts in 2013 and, towards this end, it is ready to work with the new US Administration and other international partners, including within the Quartet. There will be no sustainable peace until the Palestinians’ aspirations for statehood and sovereignty and those of Israelis for security are fulfilled through a comprehensive negotiated peace based on the two-state solution. The viability of a two-state solution must be maintained. The EU expresses deep concern about developments on the ground which threaten to make a two-state solution impossible.
3. The European Union is deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and in particular Givat Hamatos and plans to develop the E1 area. Construction in Givat Hamatos cuts the geographic continuity between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The E1 plan, if implemented, would seriously undermine the prospects of a negotiated resolution of the conflict by jeopardizing the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. It could also entail forced transfer of civilian population The European Union reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute an obstacle to peace.
4. In the light of its core objective of achieving the two-state solution, the European Union will closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and act accordingly.
5. As we have stated before, the European Union will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders other than those agreed by the parties. The EU also believes that the following further parameters could serve as a basis for a resumption of negotiations:
– Security arrangements that, for Palestinians, respect their sovereignty and show that the occupation is over; and, for Israelis, protect their security, prevent the resurgence of terrorism and deal effectively with new and emerging threats.
– A just, fair and agreed solution to the refugee question.
– Fulfilment of the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem. A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states.
6. The setting up of an internationally supported framework for direct negotiations between the parties would be instrumental in the resumption of such negotiations. The European Union remains in close contact with the parties and with the Union’s partners within the Quartet – as well as with other key actors – with the clear aim of achieving significant progress as soon as possible. The European Union recalls that the Arab Peace Initiative provides regional support for a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. The European Union will work with those who are willing to join in such a quest for peace, stability and prosperity.
7. The European Union calls on Israel to resume without delay, the transfers of Palestinian tax and clearance revenues it collects on behalf of the PA without further interruption, in line with the Paris protocol. Cuts in these transfers jeopardize the viability of the PA, have a critical impact on the provision of basic services for the Palestinian population and present a considerable risk to the security situation in the oPt and beyond. It is of the utmost importance that the Palestinian Authority continues to receive strong political and financial support from the international community as a whole. The EU recently decided on a frontloading of its budget support to the PA and calls on other donors, in particular Arab countries, to fully honor their commitments.
8. The European Union calls on the new Israeli government, which will be formed after yesterday’s election, as well as on the Palestinian leadership, to reaffirm their commitment to the two-state solution and to engage in direct and substantial negotiations without preconditions.
9. On 29 November 2012, the UN General Assembly voted in favour of resolution A/RES/67/19 on the granting of non-member observer State status in the United Nations to Palestine. The European Union calls on the Palestinian leadership to use constructively this new status and not to undertake steps which would deepen the lack of trust and lead further away from a negotiated solution.
10. Despite the ceasefire, the status quo in the Gaza Strip remains unsustainable. Fully recognising Israel’s legitimate security needs, the European Union reiterates its call for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from the Gaza Strip, the situation of which is unsustainable as long as it remains politically and economically separated from the West Bank. Equally, the issue of illegal weapons’ transfer into the Gaza Strip has to be effectively addressed as a matter of urgency. It is vital that all parts of the agreement on the cessation of hostilities are implemented and that talks on a durable ceasefire agreement are continued. The EU commends the efforts of Egypt and all those who engaged in mediation. The European Union is committed to facilitating the social and economic development of the Gaza Strip. The European Union expresses its readiness to make use of its instruments in support of the parties’ efforts, including the possible reactivation, in the appropriate way, of the EUBAM Rafah mission. The European Union underlines its readiness to explore further ways to address the situation in the Gaza Strip, including with concerned parties in the region, in line with UNSC Resolution 1860 (2009).
11. The European Union reiterates its call for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind the strong leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, in line with the principles set out in his speech of 4 May 2011, as an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two-state solution. It is in the fundamental interest of the European Union to support peace and democracy in the entire region and a strategic priority to see an end to this conflict which will continue to undermine peace and security along the EU southern borders, as long as it remains unresolved.
12. The EU is appalled by the increasingly deteriorating situation in Syria, primarily due to the unprecedented use of force by the regime. It also condemns all attacks, including terrorist acts, that indiscriminately targeted civilians. The EU is seriously concerned about the potential use and transfer of chemical weapons in Syria and reminds the Syrian regime and other parties that, in case of their use, those responsible will be held accountable. The EU underlines the necessity of the complete destruction of these chemical weapons at the earliest date practicable and urges Syria to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention as soon as possible. The EU remains deeply concerned by the spillover effects of the Syrian crisis in neighbouring countries. It remains committed to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria.
13. The EU reiterates its full support to the efforts of the Joint Special Representative of the UN and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi, in achieving a Syrian-led peaceful political transition based on the principles included in the Geneva communiqué of 30 June 2012 and calls on all parties to actively engage with Mr. Brahimi. The EU continues to call on all members of the UNSC to uphold their responsibilities.
14. The European Union encourages the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces to continue working on its structures and to become more operational and inclusive and to remain committed to the respect of the principles of human rights, inclusivity, democracy and engaging with all sections of the Syrian civil society. The EU encourages the Coalition to engage further with the Joint Special Representative and stands ready to engage with and support the coalition in these endeavours and its relations with the international community at large
15. The EU reiterates its support in strengthening the capacity of civil society organisations and stresses their importance for the building of the future democratic Syria. The EU also acknowledges the importance of supporting local civilian structures throughout Syria.
16. The European Union reiterates its call on all parties to the conflict to facilitate humanitarian access and aid delivery to the people in need, to ensure neutrality of humanitarian aid and to strictly abide by International Humanitarian Law. The Pledging Conference in Kuwait on 30 January will be an important opportunity: the EU will reaffirm its engagement towards the Syrian population inside Syria and in neighbouring countries affected by the crisis and that are generously hosting the Syrian refugees. The EU will also call on all donors to step up their response, in coordination with the UN and in full respect of humanitarian principles. The overall humanitarian contribution so far from the EU and its member states amounts to over 333 million Euro.
17. The EU remains deeply concerned about the widespread and systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law which, according to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes under the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court. The EU recalls that all those responsible for such crimes must be held accountable and that there should be no impunity for such violations and abuses. The EU has repeatedly stated that, if concerns about war crimes and crimes against humanity are not adequately addressed on a national level, the International Criminal Court should deal with the situation. The United Nations Security Council can refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, as requested in the Swiss letter to the Security Council of 14 January 2013, at any time. The EU calls on the United Nations Security Council to urgently address the situation in Syria in all aspects, including this issue.
Thank you, Mr President!
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.