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15 September 2006
THE EUROPEAN UNION
2749th EXTERNAL RELATIONS Council meeting
Brussels, 15 September 2006
Council Conclusions on
THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
"1. The Council discussed the situation in the Middle East. It underlined that lasting peace and security in the region can only be ensured by a comprehensive settlement with a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at its core. The Council underlined the importance of reinvigorating the Peace Process and requested the High Representative to pursue his efforts to this end.
2. The Council stressed its commitment to support the full implementation of UNSCR 1701, welcomed the declared commitment of all regional parties to this end, and commended the efforts of UNSG Annan. It welcomed the early deployment of the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon and the substantial contribution by EU Member States to the reinforced UNIFIL mission. It appreciated the significant contributions pledged by other countries. The Council called for a full and speedy implementation of UNSCR 1701, including the withdrawal of Israeli troops in parallel with the deployment of UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces. The Council welcomed the lifting of the Israeli air and sea blockade, which will ease the delivery of humanitarian aid and facilitate economic recovery, and the instrumental role played by EU Member States. The EU reiterated its call for the immediate release of the two abducted Israeli soldiers.
The Council invites the Presidency, the High Representative and the Commission to draw up a report on a possible European contribution to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 on the Lebanese-Syrian border.
3. The Council underlined the EU's commitment to assist the Lebanese government in meeting emergency, humanitarian and environmental needs, launching the rehabilitation and reconstruction process, extending its authority throughout Lebanese territory and taking forward political, security, economic and social reforms. It called on all outside actors and neighbours to support this process. The Council welcomed the Stockholm Conference for Lebanon's Early Recovery on 31 August. It noted that the EU/Lebanon ENP Action Plan provides an agreed framework through which the EU can assist the Government in implementing its reform agenda.
4. The Council underlined its commitment to promoting tangible progress towards a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It welcomed the announcement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on an agreement to form a government of national unity and expressed the hope that its political platform will reflect the Quartet principles and allow for early engagement. The Council welcomed the prospect of a meeting between PM Olmert and President Abbas in the near future with a view to re-launching negotiations. It called for an immediate end to violence by Palestinian factions as well as to Israeli military activity in the Palestinian territories. The Council reiterated its call for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier. It further repeated its call for the immediate release of Palestinian ministers and legislators in Israeli custody. The Council reiterated the need for all parties to respect their Roadmap obligations. It renewed its call on the Israeli Government to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth of settlements. Ministers reiterated that the EU will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders other than those agreed by both parties.
5. The Council expressed deep concern at the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories. In this context the Council recalled the strong EU commitment made at the Stockholm International Donor Conference on 1 September. It welcomed the expansion of the Temporary International Mechanism, by which the EU and its Member States have already channelled substantial resources directly to the Palestinian people, and agreed that its operation should be extended for a further three months. It encouraged donors and others in the region to make full use of the mechanism. The Council repeated its call on Israel to resume transfers of withheld Palestinian tax and customs revenues. The Council called for the full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access and, in this regard, reiterated its continued commitment to EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah. It urged that Rafah and all other border-crossings be re-opened and remain open."