Thank you for giving the floor to the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Croatia*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, and Montenegro*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
This debate comes at a time when the international community is faced with a number of challenges in the Middle East region. Nevertheless, the Arab-Israeli conflict remains a focal point and the events across the Arab world, while historic in their own right, mean that we must increase our efforts to address this problem with utmost priority.
The EU firmly believes that the transformational moment we are witnessing is actually an opportunity not to be missed. The parties and the region have waited long enough. Their hopes and aspirations have been dashed too many times. We have invested a great deal of effort in the Quartet in recent weeks, and will continue to do so, because it is our conviction that by complementing and supporting US efforts, the EU, alongside the UN and Russia, has a contribution to give to the negotiated solution we all hope will be achieved. We also recognize the crucial importance of an active Arab contribution building on the Arab Peace Initiative.
The European Union affirms that unilateral actions by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations. We must continue to concert our efforts towards a negotiated solution. The EU reiterates that settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible. All settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem, should cease immediately. New construction plans should be abandoned.
Trust between the parties has been seriously undermined. This is why our efforts have been aimed at promoting a credible framework for the resumption of negotiations between the parties on all final status issues that should lead to a two-state solution by September 2011.
This is an opportunity for the EU to recall its positions in this regard. We believe that the following parameters could serve as a basis for a resumption of negotiations between the parties:
– An agreement on the borders of the two states, based on June 4 1967 lines with equivalent land swaps as may be agreed between the parties.
– 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.
The European Union has a strong track-record as a supporter of and large contributor to Prime Minister Fayyad’s state-building programme.
At the recent Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting on 13 April, hosted by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton in Brussels, there was a unanimous acknowledgment that the Palestinian Authority’s statebuilding effort has gained renewed momentum in the past two years, as the international community co-ordinated its efforts to support the plans to build a sustainable economy and to strengthen state institutions. The European Union welcomes the assessment of the UN and of the International Financial Institutions that the Palestinian institutions are above the threshold for a functioning state in the key sectors they studied and compare favourably with those in many established states, despite the continuing occupation and the divide between the West Bank and Gaza.
The EU strongly supports this institution-building process. In this regard, the EU welcomes the organisation of a second international donors’ conference for the Palestinian State this June in Paris. The EU has further increased the component devoted to institution building assistance, which this year amounts to 75 million out of 300 million earmarked for the Occupied Palestinian Territory. However, the significant achievements of the Palestinian people would be only sustainable if there is a political breakthrough.
The European Union regrets the renewed violence witnessed in the past weeks. EU High Representative Catherine Ashton has made clear statements condemning mortar and rocket attacks out of the Gaza strip, in particular the recent attack on a school bus which resulted in the death of a student, and called for these attacks to stop immediately and permanently. She has also deplored the loss of civilian life in Gaza and called on Israel to show restraint. The lives of civilians must be protected everywhere and in all circumstances. The European Union urges the full respect of international humanitarian law. The announced ceasefire must be fully respected by all sides if there is to be any hope of a genuine peace process. The EU calls on those holding the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him without delay.
The EU firmly reiterates its calls for a full implementation of UNSC resolution 1860 (2009) calling for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza including goods and persons from the West Bank. The EU calls on all international supporters to make use of the existing land crossings to channel their support to Gaza. Increased and accelerated imports of construction materials are another crucial component of Gazas recovery. Despite some progress following the decision of the Government of Israel in June 2010 regarding Gaza access, further efforts are needed to achieve a fundamental change of policy that allows for the reconstruction and economic recovery of Gaza as well as improve the daily lives of the population while addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
The EU reiterates its readiness to contribute substantially to the comprehensive and sustainable solution, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security.
Thank you Mr President.
* Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.