Sommaire: 18 October 2010, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union by H.E. Mr. Pedro Serrano, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
Many thanks for giving the floor to the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia*, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
When we discussed the situation in the Middle East in July, the EU and others expressed the hope that both Parties to this conflict would engage very soon in direct substantive discussions of all final status issues.
That hope turned into reality when direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority started in Washington on 2nd September 2010, and later continued in Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem.
The EU commended Israelis, Palestinians, the United States as well as other Quartet and Arab Partners for bringing the start of these negotiations about.
Today we meet at a moment when efforts are being undertaken to overcome the current deadlock in these negotiations - which began only one month ago.
There is no alternative to a negotiated two-state solution. The European Union calls on all parties to seek earnestly for a satisfactory way to keep the negotiation process active and moving, and then to gather momentum. We welcome the decision of the Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee to leave the door open on the continuation of negotiations.
In this context, the European Union deems it indispensable that both sides show restraint and refrain from actions which could negatively affect the continuation of this process. To that end, both sides must uphold and implement previous commitments and strive to create an environment conducive to a successful outcome of these negotiations. The European Union stresses the need for the Quartet to continue to play an essential role in the peace process.
The European Union recalls that settlements in occupied territory are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible. We regret Israel's decision not to extend the moratorium, instituted by the Government of Israel last November, which has had a positive impact, and we reiterate our call on Israel to end all settlement activities, including in East Jerusalem. If there is to be a genuine peace, a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. The EU continues to call for a complete stop to all violence, in particular rocket fire and terrorist attacks.
When the EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, visited the region at the beginning of the month, she discussed with the Palestinian Authority the work it is doing to build the institutions for statehood. The EU takes note of the assessment made by the World Bank, which stated that if the PA maintains its current performance, it is well-positioned for the establishment of a state at any point in the near future. The EU stresses the crucial importance of the continuation of the Palestinian State building process, which the EU will continue to actively support, including the implementation of the Fayyad Plan. Political and financial support from the entire international community is essential. The EU urges those who have made financial commitments to deliver on their promises. All efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation behind President Mahmoud Abbas must also be accelerated.
The EU High Representative has visited Gaza twice this year and has praised the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for its continuous efforts to provide health, education and social protection services. The EU has welcomed Israeli steps to ease the entry of goods into Gaza, but reiterates its calls for a full implementation of UNSC resolution 1860 (2009) and 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 from the West Bank. High Representative Ashton's discussions with the Palestinian Authority have also focused on how the donors can support exports, in order to allow the people of Gaza to gain a greater stake in their economy and their future. The EU calls for a solution that addresses Israel's legitimate security concerns including a complete stop to all violence and arms smuggling into Gaza. The EU has offered its assistance for achieving this objective. The EU calls on those holding the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him without delay.
The EU also recalls that Peace in the Middle East should be comprehensive and reiterates the importance of negotiations on the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese tracks. As regards Lebanon, the EU supports the Secretary-General's recent unequivocal statement reaffirming the independence of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The EU urges all parties not to interfere in the Tribunal's work and not to prejudge its outcome.
The EU reaffirms its full support to the Lebanese authorities and commends the crucial role of UNIFIL in southern Lebanon. The EU calls upon all parties concerned to implement all provisions of Resolution 1701, to respect the Blue line in its entirety and to cooperate fully with the United Nations and UNIFIL.
These are the elements of the future - state building, strong economic development, and security - and they need to be nurtured. But nurtured in the context of serious ongoing talks on all final status issues that should lead to a two-state solution. The EU reiterates its readiness to contribute substantially to the comprehensive and sustainable solution which is to be found, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security.
* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.