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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: European Union (EU)
17 August 2005

Brussels, 17 August 2005

Javier SOLANA,

EU High Representative for the CFSP,

comments on Israeli disengagement from Gaza

and the northern West Bank

Javier SOLANA, European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), issued the following statement today on the ongoing disengagement of Israeli civilians and military forces from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank.

"I have spoken to Israeli and Palestinian authorities this weekend prior to the commencement of the Disengagement Process. I commended their political leadership in the face of a tough but indispensable challenge. I also renewed my assurances of continued EU support.

My message to them, then as well as today, is that the Israeli disengagement is a historic opportunity that needs to be seized.

Three days into Disengagement, I am pleased to note the orderly conduct of the withdrawal operations so far. I commend the real courage and the determination of the Israeli government. I hope that the evident signs of restraint on both sides will be maintained throughout. Against this background, I strongly condemn the attack on Palestinian civilians near the northern West Bank settlement of Shiloh.

It is crucial that the sense of restraint we have witnessed so far on both sides will continue to prevail beyond the end of the Disengagement Process.

The successful outcome of Disengagement will offer a momentous step for a peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians, living side-by-side and enjoying security, economic prosperity and social well-being.

Windows of opportunity are rare enough in international politics and especially in the Middle East where the absence of the peace hurts all people, inside the region and beyond. This is the reason why today we simply cannot afford to fail.

The EU is already strongly engaged in support of Disengagement and the Middle East Peace Process. It remains at hand to do whatever it can to help more, at the request of the parties and in a spirit of friendship and partnership with both people. I will convey this personal message of support to Israeli and Palestinian leaders during my visit which is to take place over the coming weeks."


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