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26 January 2006
Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D., on the outcome of the Palestinian Elections
“The Palestinian Central Election Commission has announced the preliminary results of yesterday's legislative elections. It is clear that Hamas candidates have won an overall majority of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council.
I would like to pay tribute to President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority for ensuring the professional conduct of the elections in difficult circumstances. The Palestinian people voted freely, and in large numbers.
In the days and weeks to come, the EU and the wider international community will follow developments very closely and analyse why so many Palestinians cast their votes for Hamas candidates. We will have to consider the implications for the Middle East Peace Process and for our future policies in the region.
EU Foreign Ministers will have a first discussion when we meet in Brussels on Monday next. I believe it is important at this stage that the EU make clear that there is an absolute incompatibility between pursuit of a campaign of violence and participation in the structures of democratic government. Hamas must move to renounce violence and recognise the right of Israel to exist in peace and security. We need to examine calmly and in cooperation with our international partners how best to encourage Hamas to take these vital steps, while adhering to our fundamental principles.
Nothing which has occurred in the region in recent times alters the basic reality that a lasting and peaceful settlement of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict can only be found through an agreed and mutually satisfactory two-State solution. The principles and steps set out in the Quartet Roadmap continue to provide the only available framework for such a settlement.
The Government, together with our partners in the EU, will continue to support Israeli and Palestinian political leaders with the courage to take the difficult decisions necessary for a negotiated settlement. I hope that the government to be formed following these elections will commit itself clearly to the creation of a democratic and viable Palestinian State, living in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours”.