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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: European Council
17 October 2003


PRESIDENCY CONCLUSIONS
BRUSSELS EUROPEAN COUNCIL
16/17 OCTOBER 2003


1. The European Council met in Brussels on 16/17 October 2003. The meeting was preceded by an exposé by the President of the European Parliament, Mr Pat Cox, followed by an exchange of views concerning the main items on the agenda.

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V. EXTERNAL RELATIONS

Middle East

48. The European Union is firmly committed to the clear objective of two States, Israel and a viable and democratic Palestinian State, living side by side in peace and security, in the framework of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, as laid out in the Road Map.

49. The European Council is deeply concerned by the situation in the region and has noted that, despite support given by the international community to the quest for a just and lasting solution, insufficient effort has been made by the concerned parties to seize the opportunity for peace set out in the Road Map, underscored by the recent Quartet Ministerial Statement issued September 26 last. On the contrary, rising violence is bringing added suffering and death to both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples and putting at risk security in the region and beyond.

50. The European Council therefore calls on both parties Israel and the Palestinian Authority to live up to the commitments they undertook at the Aqaba summit on 4 June 2003.

51. The European Council urges all sides in the region to immediately implement policies conducive to dialogue and negotiations. The EU relationship with those who will take steps to the contrary will be inevitably affected by such behaviour.

52. The European Council welcomes initiatives from civil society on both sides and is ready to further assist in the effort to promote rapprochement, confidence building and the search for a lasting peace.

53. The European Council strongly condemns the intensification of suicide attacks and other acts of violence that have occurred over the last few weeks and calls upon all sides to refrain from any provocative action which can further escalate the tension.

54. The European Council strongly condemns the vile terrorist attack that took the lives of three US citizens near the Eretz checkpoint in the Gaza strip on 15 October and expresses its condolences to the bereaved families. The EU expects that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.

55. Terrorist attacks against Israel have no justification whatsoever. The European Council reiterates that the fight against terrorism in all its forms remains one of the priorities of the European Union as well as of the entire international Community and that it is the duty of all countries, in particular of those in the region, to actively cooperate in the fight against terrorism and to abstain from all support, direct or indirect, to terrorist organisations.

56. The European Council emphasises once again that the Palestinian Authority must concretely demonstrate its determination in the fight against extremist violence and urges the PA and its President to take immediate, decisive steps to consolidate all Palestinian security services under the clear control of a duly empowered Prime Minister and Interior Minister, and confront individuals and groups conducting and planning terrorist attacks.

57. The European Council recognises Israel's right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks. It urges the Government of Israel, in exercising this right, to exert maximum effort to avoid civilian casualties and take no action that aggravates the humanitarian and economic plight of the Palestinian people. It also calls on Israel to abstain from any punitive measures which are not in accordance with international law, including extra-judicial killings.

58. The European Council is particularly concerned by the route marked out for the so-called security fence in the Occupied West Bank. The envisaged departure of the route from the "green line" could prejudge future negotiations and make the two-State solution physically impossible to implement. It would cause further humanitarian and economic hardship to the Palestinians. Thousands of Palestinians west of the fence are being cut off from essential services in the West Bank, Palestinians east of the fence will lose access to land and water resources.

59. The European Council calls on Israel to reverse its settlement policy and to dismantle settlements built after March 2001.

60. The European Council reiterates the determination of the European Union to contribute in all aspects of the implementation of the Road Map and stresses the importance and urgency of setting up a credible and effective third-party monitoring mechanism.

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