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Source: European Union (EU)
20 July 2004

Statement of the Presidency on behalf of the EU on developments in the Middle East
[ 20-07-2004 | CFSP statements | General Affairs and External Relations ]

The Presidency of the European Union expresses its serious concern about the latest developments in the Palestinian Territories. The Presidency calls upon the Palestinian leadership to restore calm in the Palestinian Territories. It reaffirms the European Union’s readiness to support the Palestinian Authority in taking responsibility for law and order, particularly in improving its civil police and law enforcement capacity.

In this respect, the Presidency welcomes as a first step the Palestinian Presidential decree to restructure all existing Palestinian police and security forces and to consolidate these into three services, i.e. public security, police and intelligence. It strongly urges the Palestinian Authority to abide by its obligations under the Roadmap and bring all services under the clear control of a duly empowered Prime Minister and Interior Minister, in accordance with Palestinian law. The restructuring must be followed by immediate and decisive actions against those involved in terrorism.

The Presidency calls upon Israel to halt its military incursion in parts of the Gaza Strip, particularly in the Beit Hanoun area, and to refrain from the destruction of Palestinian property. While the Presidency recognises Israel’s right to defend its civilians, it recalls Israel’s obligation to exercise this right within the parameters of international law.

The Presidency again welcomes the prospect of an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, provided it is implemented in accordance with the elements identified by the EU in the conclusions of the European Council of March 2004. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority bear a responsibility to ensure that the Gaza withdrawal is carried out successfully. The European Union commends and supports the involvement of the government of Egypt and stands ready to work with the parties for a complete withdrawal.

The Presidency reaffirms its conviction that a just and durable solution to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict can only be achieved through political negotiations between the parties and the support of the international community.

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