It’s my great honour to introduce the man who the President and I have asked to be the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace. He will lead our efforts to reinvigorate the process for achieving peace between Israel and its neighbours. He will help us to develop an integrated strategy that defends the security of Israel, work to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will result in two States, living side by side in peace and security, and to achieve further agreements to promote peace and security between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
Senator Mitchell will also work to support the objectives that the President and I believe are critical and pressing in Gaza, to develop a programme for humanitarian aid and eventual reconstruction, working with the Palestinian Authority and Israel on behalf of those objectives.
It is a great personal pleasure to introduce George Mitchell, a man who is well known inside this Department and across Washington and America, who has been willing to accept this important assignment.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process
The EU’s objective is a two-State solution with an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian State, living side-by-side with Israel and its other neighbours.
EU positions on “final status issues”
Borders. The EU considers that the future Palestinian State will require secure and recognized borders. These should be based on a withdrawal from the territory occupied in 1967 with minor modifications mutually agreed, if necessary, in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1402 (2002) and 1515 (2003) and the principles of the Madrid Process.
Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. On 8 December 2008, the EU confirmed its deep concern about accelerated settlement expansion. This expansion prejudges the outcome of final status negotiations and threatens the viability of an agreed two-State solution. The EU considers that settlement building anywhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law. On 20 February 2009, the EU condemned Israel’s planned settlement construction in the vicinity of the Adam settlement, stating that settlement activity calls into question the seriousness of Israel’s commitment to the two-State solution.
Jerusalem. The EU considers that the peace negotiations should include the resolution of all issues surrounding the status of Jerusalem. The EU supports institution-building work in East Jerusalem, notably in the areas of health, education and the judiciary.
Palestinian refugees. The EU supports a just, viable and agreed solution on this question. We will respect an agreement reached between the two parties on this point. Since 1971, the EU has been providing significant support to the work of agencies providing vital services to the Palestinian refugees (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)). It is committed to adapting this support as appropriate, in pursuit of a just and equitable solution to the refugee issue.
Security. The EU condemns all acts of violence which cannot be allowed to impede progress towards peace. The EU recognizes Israel’s right to protect its citizens from attacks, but emphasizes that the Israeli Government, in exercising this right, should act within international law. Since 2005, the EU has been involved in supporting the development of a democratic and professional Palestinian police force (see below).
EU policymaking from the Venice Declaration to the Annapolis Process
The EU has set out its policy on the Middle East in a series of high level public statements. For example, the Venice Declaration of 1980 recognized the right to security and existence for all States in the region, including Israel, and the need to fulfil the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The Berlin Declaration of 1999 included an explicit commitment to the creation of a Palestinian State. The Seville Declaration of June 2002 introduced specific details of the final status solution, as set out above.
In June 2002, the EU co-sponsored the road map for peace, a three-stage process for achieving these objectives. The road map emphasizes the need for Palestinian institution-building and economic recovery with a view to enhancing the strength and viability of the future Palestinian State. This “state-building process” requires sustained engagement on the part of the international community. It also requires urgent improvement on issues related to freedom of movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The EU has repeatedly called for the immediate freezing of settlement activities and the proactive dismantling of outposts as set out in the road map.
From 2007 onwards, the EU actively supported the Annapolis Process, which committed the Israelis and the Palestinians to implement road map obligations and to reach a peace agreement by the end of 2008. In November 2007, an EU Action Strategy for the Middle East Peace Process was tabled by European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and the EU High Representative for the Common and Foreign Security Policy, Javier Solana, setting out a range of ways in which the EU can support the peace process, and the conditions which are necessary for our support to be effective.
Unfortunately, although negotiations took place throughout 2008 in the framework of the Annapolis Process, agreement could not be reached by the agreed deadline. In December 2008, EU Heads of State and Government made a statement stressing that a comprehensive peace in the Middle East remains a top priority for 2009; they praised the Arab Peace Initiative as a basis for regional peace; and called on the new US administration to engage from day one.
Regional peace in the Middle East
The EU considers that peace in the Middle East requires a comprehensive solution.
In this regard, the EU welcome the announcement in May 2008 that peace talks between the Syrian Arab Republic and Israel were to resume peace negotiations through Turkish mediation. These indirect talks are currently suspended.
In December 2008, the EU expressed the hope that Lebanon-Israel peace talks would be possible.
The EU had praised the Arab Peace Initiative as a major step forward for the Middle East peace process, since it offers a basis for peaceful and normalized relations between Israel and all 22 members of the Arab League.
In December 2008, the EU called for work to be carried out, notably on the basis of the Arab peace initiative, to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a comprehensive and operational manner.
Political EU activities in support of the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP)
The EU has strong political and economic relations with partners in the region, including Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. These are underpinned by Association Agreement and by European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plans. The EU is currently examining the possibility of concluding a similar agreement with Syria.
The EU’s Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (“Union for the Mediterranean”) serves as a forum for regional dialogue and remains the only multilateral context outside the United Nations where all parties to the conflict can meet and work together on a range of issues.
Along with Russia, the United Nations and the United States, the EU participates in the so-called “Quartet”. Recently, the Quartet has supported the Annapolis process, which includes a specific focus on implementation of the parties’ obligations under the 2002 road map. The EU provides financial and human resources to the Office of the Quartet Representative, Tony Blair.
The “EU Troika”, consisting of Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, High Representative Solana and the Presidency of the EU, represents the EU at Quartet meetings and conducts dialogue with third countries on the Middle East peace process. In 1996, the Council appointed a Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process (EUSR). Ambassador Marc Otte has occupied this post since 2003, and he represents the EU in the preparatory meetings for the Quartet.
Alongside regular consultations with our partners in the region, including the Arab League, the EU Foreign Ministers and the European Council issue regular policy statements as part of a coordinated EU policy.
Practical EU activities in support of the MEPP
The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinians. In recent years, the combined contribution of the European Commission and EU Member States has reached €1 billion per year, which is not sustainable. Working to lift restrictions on the normal operation of the Palestinian economy, notably movement and access issues, is a priority for the EU.
Our assistance is intended to foster the conditions for peace, stability and prosperity in the region, notably by advancing the Palestinian State-building process, promoting good governance and encouraging economic recovery with a view to enhancing the viability of the future Palestinian State. Examples include:
Humanitarian and emergency response. Due to the situation on the ground, much of the EU’s contribution is channeled in this way. We offer humanitarian and emergency aid through UNRWA and our European mechanism for support to Palestinians (PEGASE), providing a vital lifeline to Palestinian families affected by poverty and conflict.
State-building activities. For over a decade, the EU has placed a major focus on empowering the Palestinian Authority through institution-building and governance work. During 2008, the EU has been intensifying these activities, in areas which complement PA plans, for example, health, education and the judiciary. The EU has also contributed to the development of modern and democratic police forces through the European Union Co-ordinating Office for Palestinian Policy Support (EUPOLCOPPS) mission in Ramallah, which provides police training, police equipment and the reconstruction of police, prison and training facilities. EU assistance to the civil police is complemented by wider support for the rule of law, including support for the establishment of an efficient penal and judiciary system.
Palestinian economic activity. The EU has several measures aimed at encouraging the Palestinian private sector including credit guarantees, vocational training and trade facilitation. Unfortunately, at present Palestinian economic activity (and daily life) is limited due to Israeli restrictions on access and movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The EU’s development assistance is managed in Brussels by the EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) oversees humanitarian assistance. Assistance is managed on the ground by the Commission Technical Assistance Office in Jerusalem. Together with the Presidency, the Commission takes a leading role in the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of international donors to the Palestinian Authority and in international donors' conferences for the peace process, notably the Paris Donors’ Conference of 17 December 2007, where the Commission pledged €440 million to support the Palestinian Authority’s Reform and Development Plan in 2008.
Customs and trade. The EU is active in this area, for example, by providing technological solutions for the swift control of goods passing through the borders of the future Palestinian State, and by supporting the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to develop its trade policy and institutions (such as an agency dealing with customs and border issues).
Border assistance. In November 2005, an EU border assistance mission ("EUBAM Rafah") was established to help ensure international standards at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. This mission has been suspended since June 2007, but in December 2008, the EU indicated it was ready to resume its border assistance activities to enable the re-opening of Rafah, in cooperation with Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. It was also willing to examine the possibility of extending its border assistance to other crossing points in Gaza.
Trilateral dialogues have been organized between the European Commission, Israel and the Palestinian Authority on transport, energy and trade policy.
Civil society activities. The EU’s has consistently supported “people to people” projects. For example, our “Partnership for Peace” programme offers support for local and international civil society initiatives that promote peace, tolerance and non-violence in the Middle East. The objective of this support is to contribute to the rebuilding of confidence within each society and between societies.
REGIONAL AND SUB-REGIONAL POLITICAL ISSUES
177. The Ministers stressed the need for urgent efforts to advance a Middle East peace process based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 425 (1978), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1850 (2008), the Madrid terms of reference and the principle of land for peace. They rejected attempts to alter the terms of reference of the peace process, including the imposition of unilateral measures and schemes by Israel, the occupying Power, aimed at forcibly and illegally imposing a unilateral solution. They affirmed that such illegal measures including, in particular, the construction and expansion of settlements and the Wall, are totally contradictory to the peace process and must be ceased completely for any resumption of peace negotiations. In this regard, they stressed the need for intensified and coordinated efforts by the international community to promote a genuine peace process as well as to ensure respect for international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, the key to a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole.
178. On this basis, the Ministers stressed the need for the resumption, in a timely and appropriate manner, of substantial negotiations between the parties on all tracks of the peace process for the achievement of a comprehensive, just, lasting and peaceful settlement, based on the relevant UN resolutions and in accordance with the rules and principles of international law enshrined therein. In this regard, they reiterated the necessity and urgency of ending the prolonged and unlawful Israeli occupation of all of the Arab territories occupied since 1967. They further reaffirmed their long-standing position in support of the establishment of the independent State of Palestine in all of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem as its capital.
179. The Ministers recalled the historic role to be played by and the obligations of the international community, including the Security Council, towards advancing a just and comprehensive peace settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, as a whole, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and regional stability. They called upon the Quartet, in light of the responsibilities undertaken by its members, to exert serious efforts and actions to support and promote negotiations on all final status issues, including full implementation of the provisions of the road map for a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also called upon the Security Council to engage the Quartet, considering the Council’s Charter authority and responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and called on the members of the NAM Caucus of the Council to remain active in this regard.
180. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for the Arab Peace Initiative, which was adopted by the XIV Arab Summit in Beirut in March 2002, and welcomed the resolutions of the XXI Arab Summit in Doha in March 2009 which reaffirmed the commitment by all Arab States to the Arab Peace Initiative and stressed that this peace initiative will not remain on the table for long, as stipulated in the documents adopted by the Doha Arab Summit in 2009.
The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable. It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust. Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich. Six million Jews were killed – more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today. Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful. Threatening Israel with destruction – or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews – is deeply wrong and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.
On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they've endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighbouring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.
For decades then, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It's easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two States, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.
That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires. The obligations – the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear. For peace to come, it is time for them – and all of us – to live up to our responsibilities.
Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights. It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding. This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia. It's a story with a simple truth: that violence is a dead end. It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That's not how moral authority is claimed; that's how it is surrendered.
Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist.
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society. Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.
And finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their State, to recognize Israel's legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.
America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian State. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.
Too many tears have been shed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer.
In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side by side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other. These two realities – our connection to the land of Israel, and the Palestinian population living within it – have created deep divisions in Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more that unites us than divides us.
I have come tonight to give expression to that unity, and to the principles of peace and security on which there is broad agreement within Israeli society. These are the principles that guide our policy. This policy must take into account the international situation that has recently developed. We must recognize this reality and at the same time stand firmly on those principles essential for Israel.
I have already stressed the first principle – recognition. Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people.
The second principle is: demilitarization. The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel. Without these two conditions, there is a real danger that an armed Palestinian State would emerge that would become another terrorist base against the Jewish State, such as the one in Gaza. We don't want Qassam rockets on Petach Tikva, Grad rockets on Tel Aviv, or missiles on Ben-Gurion airport. We want peace.
In order to achieve peace, we must ensure that Palestinians will not be able to import missiles into their territory, to field an army, to close their airspace to us, or to make pacts with the likes of Hezbollah and Iran. On this point as well, there is wide consensus within Israel. It is impossible to expect us to agree in advance to the principle of a Palestinian State without assurances that this State will be demilitarized. On a matter so critical to the existence of Israel, we must first have our security needs addressed.
Therefore, today we ask our friends in the international community, led by the United States, for what is critical to the security of Israel: Clear commitments that in a future peace agreement, the territory controlled by the Palestinians will be demilitarized: namely, without an army, without control of its airspace, and with effective security measures to prevent weapons smuggling into the territory - real monitoring, and not what occurs in Gaza today. And obviously, the Palestinians will not be able to forge military pacts. Without this, sooner or later, these territories will become another Hamastan. And that we cannot accept.
I told President Obama when I was in Washington, D.C., that if we could agree on the substance, then the terminology would not pose a problem. And here is the substance that I now state clearly:
If we receive this guarantee regarding demilitarization and Israel's security needs, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people, then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian State exists alongside the Jewish State.
Regarding the remaining important issues that will be discussed as part of the final settlement, my positions are known: Israel needs defensible borders, and Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel with continued religious freedom for all faiths. The territorial question will be discussed as part of the final peace agreement. In the meantime, we have no intention of building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements.
But there is a need to enable the residents to live normal lives, to allow mothers and fathers to raise their children like families elsewhere. The settlers are neither the enemies of the people nor the enemies of peace. Rather, they are an integral part of our people, a principled, pioneering and Zionist public.
Unity among us is essential and will help us achieve reconciliation with our neighbours. That reconciliation must already begin by altering existing realities. I believe that a strong Palestinian economy will strengthen peace.
If the Palestinians turn toward peace – in fighting terror, in strengthening governance and the rule of law, in educating their children for peace and in stopping incitement against Israel – we will do our part in making every effort to facilitate freedom of movement and access, and to enable them to develop their economy. All of this will help us advance a peace treaty between us.
Above all else, the Palestinians must decide between the path of peace and the path of Hamas. The Palestinian Authority will have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit at the negotiating table with terrorists who seek their destruction. Hamas will not even allow the Red Cross to visit our kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who has spent three years in captivity, cut off from his parents, his family and his people. We are committed to bringing him home, healthy and safe.
With a Palestinian leadership committed to peace, with the active participation of the Arab world, and the support of the United States and the international community, there is no reason why we cannot achieve a breakthrough to peace.
Our people have already proven that we can do the impossible. Over the past 61 years, while constantly defending our existence, we have performed wonders.
Our microchips are powering the world's computers. Our medicines are treating diseases once considered incurable. Our drip irrigation is bringing arid lands back to life across the globe. And Israeli scientists are expanding the boundaries of human knowledge. If only our neighbors would respond to our call – peace too will be in our reach.
I call on the leaders of the Arab world and on the Palestinian leadership: let us continue together on the path of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let us realize the vision of the prophet Isaiah, who in Jerusalem 2,700 years ago said: "Nations shall not lift up sword against nation, and they shall learn war no more."
With God's help, we will know no more war. We will know peace.
The supreme goal of the national liberation cause, led by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, is to end the occupation, establish a sovereign and independent State on the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, and reach a just and agreed solution for Palestinian refugees in accordance with relevant international resolutions, and General Assembly resolution 194, in particular. The Palestinian Declaration of Independence of 1988, and the Oslo Declaration of Principles of 1993, affirmed the willingness of the Palestinian people to reach an historic compromise to end the occupation of the Palestinian territory since 1967, and secure Palestinian self-determination in an independent, sovereign State with Jerusalem as its capital. As the natural extension of the PLO, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is devoting all of its energy and capacity to realizing this national goal. Since 1993, we have made significant progress in building institutions to protect and serve our citizens. We have continued on this upward path in spite of the ongoing occupation, siege and military action against our people, including land confiscation, house demolitions, and military incursions.
The path has been long and hard and the patience of our people has been sorely tested. Out of respect for our citizens, and in recognition of their desire to live free and peaceful lives under national independence, we must answer their demand to see the fruits of the State-building project. Against this background, the Palestinian Government is struggling determinedly against a hostile occupation regime, employing all of its energies and available resources, most especially the capacities of our people, to complete the process of building institutions of the independent State of Palestine in order to establish a de facto state apparatus within the next two years. It is time now for the illegal occupation to end and for the Palestinian people to enjoy security, safety, freedom and independence.
The Government calls upon our people, including all political parties and civil society, to realize this fundamental objective and unite behind the State-building agenda over the next two years. We want to work in partnership with all our citizens to build the institutions of a free, democratic and stable State of Palestine that adheres to the principles of human rights and equality under the law, without discrimination on any grounds whatsoever. Together we must confront the whole world with the reality that Palestinians are united and steadfast in their determination to remain on their homeland, end the occupation, and achieve their freedom and independence. The world should hear loudly and clearly, from all corners of our society, that the occupation is the true impediment which has frustrated our efforts to realize the stability, prosperity and progress of our people and our right to freedom, independence and decent life. The world should also know that we are not prepared to continue living under a brutal occupation and siege that flouts not only the law, but also the principles of natural justice and human decency.
The window of opportunity to secure a viable two-State solution is now mortally threatened by Israel’s settlement policy, the continuation of which will undermine the remaining opportunity of building an independent Palestinian State on the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967. The PNA therefore calls upon the people of Israel and their leaders, as well as leaders and citizens across the world, to ensure that a just peace prevails in the Middle East. This peace cannot be attained unless our people gain their national rights as defined by international resolutions, including their right to live freely and decently in an independent state.
We are a partner for peace. Like all other peoples of the world, we aspire to live in peace, secure prosperity for our people, and bring stability to our region. But, like all peoples, we also seek justice. This cannot be achieved unless our people attain their legitimate, national rights as prescribed by international resolutions and implicit in the two-State solution. The PNA has made remarkable progress in establishing the rule of law and delivering public services under the occupation regime and in spite of the obstacles it has constructed. For its part, Israel must immediately begin dismantling these obstacles, which undermine PNA’s efforts. Israel must dismantle the infrastructure of the occupation and create the space for international efforts to reach a just and lasting peace.
Notwithstanding our people’s suffering from Israel’s policies and actions, the thirteenth Government is determined to dedicate efforts to building the Palestinian State. Based upon a Palestinian vision of the tasks that must be completed to build the State of Palestine, the Government hereby sets forth and communicates to our people, and all nations and friends in the international community, the basic principles of its program to translate this vision into a solid reality.
The establishment of a Palestinian State within two years is not only possible, it is essential. The establishment of this State is fundamental to security, stability and peace in the region. It will be a State that builds bridges with all the people of the world, not walls to deny them the joy of visiting this sacred land. It will be an emblem and protector of peace, tolerance and prosperity in this troubled region. Our Declaration of Independence, issued forth by the Palestinian National Council in 1988, called upon all peace- and freedom-loving peoples and States to assist us in achieving our goal of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State. Twenty years on, we reiterate that call in anticipation of the good will and support of our Arab brethren and the international community of nations. We hope that they will continue to assist and support us to achieve this supreme goal.
I have just concluded frank and productive bilateral meetings with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. And I want to thank them both for appearing here today. I am now looking forward to this opportunity to hold the first meeting among the three of us since we took office.
As I said throughout my campaign and at the beginning of my administration, the United States is committed to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. That includes a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that results in two States, Israel and Palestine, in which both the Israeli people and the Palestinian people can live in peace and security and realize their aspirations for a better life for their children.
That is why my Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and my Special Envoy, George Mitchell, have worked tirelessly to create the context for permanent status negotiations. And we have made progress since I took office in January and since Israelis – Israel’s Government took office in April. But we still have much further to go.
Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security, but they need to do more to stop incitement and to move forward with negotiations. Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians and have discussed important steps to restrain settlement activity. But they need to translate these discussions into real action on this and other issues. And it remains important for the Arab States to take concrete steps to promote peace.
Simply put, it is past time to talk about starting negotiations – it is time to move forward. It is time to show the flexibility and common sense and sense of compromise that’s necessary to achieve our goals. Permanent status negotiations must begin and begin soon. And more importantly, we must give those negotiations the opportunity to succeed.
And so my message to these two leaders is clear. Despite all the obstacles, despite all the history, despite all the mistrust, we have to find a way forward. We have to summon the will to break the deadlock that has trapped generations of Israelis and Palestinians in an endless cycle of conflict and suffering. We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward and then stepping back. Success depends on all sides acting with a sense of urgency. And that is why I have asked Secretary Clinton and Senator Mitchell to carry forward the work that we do here today.
Senator Mitchell will meet with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators next week. I've asked the Prime Minister and the President to continue these intensive discussions by sending their teams back to Washington next week. And I've asked the Secretary of State to report to me on the status of these negotiations in mid-October.
All of us know this will not be easy. But we are here today because it is the right thing to do. I look forward to speaking with my colleagues. I'm committed to pressing ahead in the weeks and months and years to come, because it is absolutely critical that we get this issue resolved. It’s not just critical for the Israelis and the Palestinians, it’s critical for the world, it is in the interests of the United States. And we are going to work as hard as necessary to accomplish our goals. Thanks.
The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) welcomes the meetings of the parties in New York on 22 September to lay the groundwork for the re-launch of negotiations, and to create a positive context for those negotiations so they can succeed.
At the meeting, the donors reaffirmed their strong commitment to the two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the political negotiations by ensuring full compliance with road map obligations and mobilizing assistance to Palestinian economic and institutional development. They noted that delivering change on the ground should form an integral part of efforts towards peace.
The AHLC therefore welcomed the Palestinian Authority's (PA) programme for the thirteenth government, which was introduced at the meeting by Prime Minister Fayyad. The plan will be an important platform for donor coordination with the PA, with the focus on continued assistance on developing a sustainable economy and building robust State institutions.
The meeting took note of reports indicating improvements in the macroeconomic situation in the West Bank as a result of concerted actions by the PA, the Government of Israel, and the donor community. The private sector's confidence has been bolstered by the PA's reestablishment of a secure environment in major West Bank cities, as well as by its public sector reforms and prudent fiscal policy. These reforms were supported by generous donor budget support. Complementing the PA's measures, the Government of Israel has relaxed restrictions on the movement of goods and people within the West Bank, which has provided impetus to private sector activity and growth. In accordance with the World Bank report, a change in the Israeli settlement policy will have a positive impact on further development of the Palestinian economy, as will ongoing efforts to resolve the conflict.
The AHLC welcomed the disbursement of increased budget support following the AHLC meeting in June. The International Monetary Fund has reported that the PA will need additional budgetary donor support as early as October and anticipates a budget deficit of about $400 million through the end of the year.
AHLC members agreed that sustainable growth in the Palestinian territory can only be achieved when Palestinians have full access to international markets, and when there is free movement for people and investors. This will contribute to achieving less dependency on high levels of donor aid. The broad and continued efforts by donors to ensure project implementation were welcomed. Private sector development is a key to economic sustainability. The AHLC commended the tireless efforts by Quartet Representative Tony Blair.
The Quartet Representative emphasized that the project to establish Wataniya, the second Palestinian mobile telecommunications operator, must soon come to a conclusion. The agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel should be fully implemented, and the full 4.8 MHz should be allocated so that the project could start. A positive outcome would have significant implications for the PA budget and encourage international and regional investors.
The Security Council, in its resolution 1860 (2009), tasked the AHLC to support efforts to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza. The donors expressed their deep concerns for the welfare of the people of Gaza, agreed that the situation in Gaza is unsustainable and noticed the importance of the United Nations proposal for civilian reconstruction activity. The AHLC welcomed the Israeli Government's approval of water and sanitation programmes in Gaza. Reports presented to this AHLC meeting called for the closure to be lifted. The AHLC noted the need for efforts to assure a durable ceasefire and taking security concerns of all of the civilian populations into account.
The AHLC welcomed the report of the Joint Liaison Committee, the local tripartite cooperation between Palestinians, Israelis and international donors. The Committee now meets regularly to speed up implementation of measures, projects and activities that will further improve the Palestinian economy.
On this basis, the AHLC:
• Encourages assistance to the PA in implementing the programme for the thirteenth government for completing the task of building a viable Palestinian State, with regard to institution-building and the development of a sustainable Palestinian economy. The AHLC emphasized the importance for the Palestinian Authority to continue reform efforts and fiscal discipline
• Calls on Israel to further facilitate access and movement to and within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, taking into account Israel's security concerns
• Urges Israel to facilitate humanitarian programmes, service delivery and much needed reconstruction in Gaza, in accordance with the Security Council resolution 1860 (2009)
• Emphasizes that the PA should play a key role in delivering humanitarian and rehabilitation efforts in Gaza
• Urges donors that have not yet converted budget support pledges into disbursements to transfer their assistance without delay, as well as to reallocate unutilized funds for project implementation to budgetary support for 2009
• Encourages donors to use existing aid delivery mechanisms, such as the World Bank Trust Fund and the European Commission's PEGASE, and to consider aligning their funding cycles with the Palestinian Authority's national budget cycle
• Calls on the Joint Liaison Committee to further strengthen the tripartite cooperation locally with a view to ensuring more effective progress on the ground.
The Chair announced its intention to call for a meeting at ministerial level at an appropriate time and place following the resumptions of negotiations.
I will also continue to seek a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine and the Arab world. ... Yesterday, I had a constructive meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. We have made some progress. Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security. Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians. As a result of these efforts on both sides, the economy in the West Bank has begun to grow. But more progress is needed. We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.
The time has come to re-launch negotiations – without preconditions – that address the permanent-status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians; borders, refugees and Jerusalem. The goal is clear: two States living side by side in peace and security – a Jewish State of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian State with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people.
As we pursue this goal, we will also pursue peace between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic, and a broader peace between Israel and its many neighbours. In pursuit of that goal, we will develop regional initiatives with multilateral participation, alongside bilateral negotiations.
Now, I am not naïve. I know this will be difficult. But – not just the Israelis and the Palestinians, but all of us – all of us must decide whether we are serious about peace, or whether we only lend it lip service. To break the old patterns, to break the cycle of insecurity and despair, all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private. The United States does Israel no favours when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favours when they choose vitriolic attacks over constructive willingness to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, and its right to exist in peace and security.
We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. ... It is paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the night. It is paid by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own. These are all God’s children. And after all of the politics and all of the posturing, this is about the right of every human being to live with dignity and security. That is a lesson embedded in the three great faiths that call one small slice of Earth the Holy Land. And that is why, even though there will be setbacks and false starts and tough days, I will not waiver in my pursuit of peace.
In its resolution S/12/1, the Human Rights Council recommended that the General Assembly consider the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (also called Goldstone report) during the main part of its sixty-fourth session. The General Assembly considered the report of the Human Rights Council at its twelfth special session under agenda item 64. The recommendations of the report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict are reproduced below (A/HRC/12/48):
1967. The Mission makes the following recommendations related to:
1975. To the international community,
(b) International aid providers should step up financial and technical assistance for organizations providing psychological support and mental health services to the Palestinian population;
(c) In view of their crucial function, the Mission recommends that donor countries/assistance providers should continue to support the work of Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations in documenting and publicly reporting on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, and advising relevant authorities on their compliance with international law;
(d) The Mission recommends that States involved in peace negotiations between Israel and representatives of the Palestinian people, especially the Quartet, should ensure that respect for the rule of law, international law and human rights assumes a central role in internationally sponsored peace initiatives;
(b) The Mission recommends that attention should be given to the position of women and steps be taken to ensure their access to compensation, legal assistance and economic security.
1979. To the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights,
(b) The Mission recommends that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should give attention to the Mission’s recommendations in its periodic reporting on the Occupied Palestinian Territory to the Human Rights Council.
Today, my cabinet authorized a policy of restraint regarding settlements which will include a suspension of new permits and new construction in Judea and Samaria for a period of 10 months.
My cabinet authorized this far-reaching step because of our deep desire for peace.
We hope that this decision will help launch meaningful peace negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that will finally end the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel.
We are committed to working closely with the United States to advance peace and security in the region. We have been told by many friends that once Israel takes the first step towards peace, the Palestinians and the Arab world would respond positively with steps of their own to create a virtuous cycle of goodwill. Well, the Government of Israel is taking a very big and difficult step towards peace today. I hope that the Palestinians and the Arab world will seize this opportunity to work with us to forge a new beginning and a new future for our children and for their children.
Since the day our Government was sworn in eight months ago, we have been calling for direct negotiations with the Palestinians. During that time, we have taken many concrete actions to improve daily life for the Palestinians and to create a climate in which political negotiations would have the best chance to succeed. We have dismantled hundreds of roadblocks and checkpoints, extended the hours of operation on the Allenby Bridge and removed bureaucratic obstacles to Palestinian economic development.
These actions have helped spur a surge, a boom, in the Palestinian economy. At the same time, the security environment has improved, thanks both to the efforts of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and to the efforts of better-trained PA security forces. Now we wish to add to this improved economic and security climate meaningful political negotiations.
I have already said that we will not build new settlements and that we would not expropriate additional land for existing settlements. I said we would also restrain settlement activity, and that's exactly what we decided to do today. I promised to enable normal life to continue for the three hundred thousand Israeli citizens, our brothers and sisters, who live in Judea and Samaria.
That is why this suspension will not affect construction currently underway. It will not include the schools, kindergartens, synagogues and public buildings necessary for the continuation of normal life over the time period of the suspension. Obviously, any infrastructure that may be needed to protect our national security or to safeguard the lives of our citizens will also be provided during this time.
Regarding Jerusalem, our sovereign capital, our position is well known. We do not put any restrictions on building in our sovereign capital. As always, we are committed to protect freedom of worship for all faiths and to ensure equal and fair treatment for all the city's residents, Jews and Arabs alike.
When the suspension ends, my Government will revert to the policies of previous Governments in relation to construction.
I want to say clearly to the Palestinians: Now is the time to begin negotiations. Now is the time to move the peace process forward. There is no more time to waste. Israel has taken a far-reaching step for peace. It's time for the Palestinians to do the same.
1. The Council of the European Union is seriously concerned about the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process. The European Union calls for the urgent resumption of negotiations that will lead, within an agreed time-frame, to a two-State solution with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. A comprehensive peace, which is a fundamental interest of the parties in the region and the EU, must be achieved on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles including land for peace, the road map, the agreements previously reached by the parties and the Arab Peace Initiative.
2. The Council reconfirms its support for the efforts by the United States to resume negotiations on all final status issues, including borders, Jerusalem, refugees, security and water, respecting previous agreements and understandings. The European Union will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. The Council reiterates the EU's readiness to contribute substantially to post-conflict arrangements, aimed at ensuring the sustainability of peace agreements, and will continue the work undertaken on EU contributions on State-building, regional issues, refugees, security and Jerusalem. The Council underlines the need for a reinvigorated Quartet engagement and notes the crucial importance of an active Arab contribution building on the Arab Peace Initiative.
3. The EU stands ready to further develop its bilateral relations with the Palestinian Authority reflecting shared interests, including in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy. Recalling the Berlin declaration, the Council also reiterates its support for negotiations leading to Palestinian statehood, all efforts and steps to that end and its readiness, when appropriate, to recognize a Palestinian State. It will continue to assist Palestinian State-building, including through its Common Security and Defence Policy missions and within the Quartet. The EU fully supports the implementation of the Palestinian Authority's Government Plan "Palestine, Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State" as an important contribution to this end and will work for enhanced international support for this plan.
4. Recalling the EU's position as expressed at the Association Council in June 2009, the Council reaffirms its readiness to further develop its bilateral relations with Israel within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The EU reiterates its commitment towards the security of Israel and its full integration into the region, which is best guaranteed through peace between Israel and its neighbours.
5. Encouraging further concrete confidence-building measures, the Council takes positive note of the recent decision of the Government of Israel on a partial and temporary settlement freeze as a first step in the right direction and hopes that it will contribute towards a resumption of meaningful negotiations.
6. Developments on the ground play a crucial part in creating the context for successful negotiations. The Council reiterates that settlements, the separation barrier where built on occupied land, demolition of homes and evictions are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-State solution impossible. The Council urges the Government of Israel to immediately end all settlement activities, in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank and including natural growth, and to dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001.
7. The EU welcomes Israel’s steps to ease restrictions of movement in the West Bank which have made a contribution to economic growth. The Council calls for further and sustained improvements of movement and access, noting that many check points and road blocks remain in place. The Council also calls on the Palestinian Authority to build on its efforts to improve law and order.
8. The Council is deeply concerned about the situation in East Jerusalem. In view of recent incidents, it calls on all parties to refrain from provocative actions. The Council recalls that it has never recognized the annexation of 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 Council calls for the reopening of Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem in accordance with the road map. It also calls on the Israeli Government to cease all discriminatory treatment of Palestinians in East Jerusalem.
9. Gravely concerned about the situation in Gaza, the Council urges the full implementation of Security Council 1860 (2009) and the full respect of international humanitarian law. In this context, the continued policy of closure is unacceptable and politically counterproductive. It has devastated the private sector economy and damaged the natural environment, notably water and other natural resources. The EU again reiterates its calls for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza. In this context, the Council calls for the full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access. While extremists stand to gain from the current situation, the civilian population, half of which are under the age of 18, suffers. Fully recognizing Israel's legitimate security needs, the Council continues to call for a complete stop to all violence and arms smuggling into Gaza. The Council calls on those holding the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him without delay.
10. The Council calls on all Palestinians to promote reconciliation behind President Mahmoud Abbas, support for the mediation efforts by Egypt and the Arab League and the prevention of a permanent division between the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The Council would welcome the organization of free and fair Palestinian elections when conditions permit.
11. A comprehensive peace must include a settlement between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic and Israel and Lebanon. Concerning the Syrian track, the EU welcomes recent statements by Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic confirming their willingness to advance towards peace and supports all efforts aimed at the reactivation of the talks between the two countries.
12. The EU recalls that a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict requires a regional approach and will continue its work on this in line with the June 2009 Council Conclusions using all its instruments to this effect. The EU also calls on all regional actors to take confidence-building measures in order to stimulate mutual trust and encourages Arab countries to be forthcoming, both politically and financially, in assisting the Palestinian Authority and to Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).