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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 December 2004






DEVELOPMENTS RELATED TO THE MIDDLE EAST
PEACE PROCESS


Issue 19 January – December 2004

The economic road map by the Aix Group of economists
Aix-en-Provence, France, January 2004
·
Statement by the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
at the meeting with leaders of the Geneva Initiative
Brussels, 2 February 2004
·
Comments by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland after his meeting
with the promoters of the Geneva Initiative
Dublin, 11 March 2004
·
Conclusions of the Presidency of the European Council
Brussels, 26 March 2004
·
Report by the Independent Task Force on
Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions
New York, 1 April 2004
·
Statement by US President George W. Bush on the peace process and the
Gaza disengagement plan and his letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Washington, D.C., 14 April 2004
·
Gaza disengagement plan
Tel Aviv, Israel, 15 April 2004
·
Statement by the EU Council President on the situation in the Middle East
Tullamore, Ireland, 16 April 2004
·
Declaration on Palestine issued by the OIC Al-Quds Committee
Putrajaya, Malaysia, 22 April 2004
·
Final communiqué of the ministerial meeting
of the NAM Committee on Palestine
Putrajaya, Malaysia, 13 May 2004
·
Declaration of the sixteenth session of the Arab Summit
Tunis, 22-23 May 2004
·
EU-US joint declaration supporting peace, progress and
reform in the broader Middle East and in the Mediterranean
Dromoland Castle, Ireland, 26 June 2004
·
Address by US President George W. Bush to the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly
New York, 21 September 2004
·
Statement by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the Road Map
Israel, 6 October 2004
·
Conclusions of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Brussels, 5 November 2004
·
EU memorandum on EU-Mediterranean partnership
Brussels, 10 December 2004
·
EU deploys observer mission for PA Presidential election
Brussels, 10 December 2004

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The economic road map by the Aix Group of economists
Aix-en-Provence, France, January 2004


The text of the executive summary of the paper entitled “Economic road map: an Israeli-Palestinian perspective on permanent status”, prepared by the Aix Group, consisting of Palestinian, Israeli and international economists, is reproduced below:

Executive summary
ECONOMIC MAP
This paper, prepared by a non-official group of Israeli, Palestinian and international economists, aims to establish an economic counterpart to the Road Map for peace. The paper concentrates on economic arrangements associated with Phase III of the Road Map, since the group believes that the economic content of Phases I and II can only be determined correctly if a clear vision of permanent status arrangements first exists.

In accordance with the Road Map, the paper assumes the emergence of a two-State solution embodying Palestinian economic sovereignty, unambiguous borders and the conduct of economic relations in a spirit of cooperation and mutuality. The group’s economic vision of permanent status is based on economic arrangements that will seek a convergence of Palestinian living standards with those of Israel and promote independence in economic policymaking while acknowledging economic interdependency.

Central to our discussion is a recognition that future Palestinian economic strategy can no longer afford to rely so heavily on the export of labour and remittance income. It is unlikely that the number of Palestinians working in Israel will again approach historical levels; moreover, domestic Palestinian production and exports are compromised by the upward pressure on domestic wages and prices exerted by higher Israeli wage levels.

The group assessed future policy options in the trade, labour, fiscal, monetary and investment policy areas.

Trade. The group recommends a free trade area, consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) protocols. We believe that a free trade area between a Palestinian state and Israel is likely to be feasible and efficient, as well as to offer exploitable development opportunities. It would provide Palestinians open access to the Israeli market, with Israel continuing to be a key trading partner. At the same time, a free trade area will allow the Palestinian state to diversify its trade relations and implement development policies conducive to economic growth and prosperity. A free trade area will be most efficient if accompanied by a friendly system of rules of origin. Israel would grant the Palestinian state, as a developing economy, the option to temporarily protect selected sectors.

Labour. The group recommends the establishment of designated border passages through which labour flows would be unencumbered, while subject to regulation through taxes and/or permits. Palestinian workers should be given preferential access to the Israeli labour market, as compared to other foreign workers, reflecting the lower negative externalities for the Israeli economy. In addition, work permits should be granted to and held by individuals, not contractors. Although the Israeli labour market will play a diminishing role in Palestinian development, its importance in an orderly economic transition is significant.

Fiscal policy. Under a free trade area, each country would run an independent international customs policy, but would not impose duties on goods originating in Israel/the Palestinian state (with certain exceptions as defined under the agreement). To minimize smuggling, indirect tax policy needs to be closely coordinated, and VAT and other indirect tax rates (excises, purchase taxes) should only diverge marginally, if at all. Double taxation should be avoided since this would discourage cross-border economic activity. Accordingly, there is a case for applying lower income tax rates to Palestinian workers in Israel as compared to those applicable to Israelis or other foreign workers. Alternatively, Israel should continue to remit to the Palestinian state a large portion of the income tax it levies on Palestinians working in Israel, as well as any social security deductions.

Monetary policy. We recommend that the restrictions embedded in the Paris Protocol preventing the Palestinian Monetary Authority from issuing Palestinian currency be lifted in Phase II (whether or not the PA then decides to create a new currency). At present, the Palestinian Authority does not receive revenue from issuing and circulating a currency, and this raises the possibility of the PA sharing the revenue derived from the issuance of Israeli shekels while the current currency system continues. The two central banks should consult over the supervision of branches and subsidiaries operating within each other’s jurisdiction.

Investment. The group recommends that both countries accord one another’s investors and investments national treatment - with some exemptions in cases that bear upon special national interests. The future economic agreement should permit full repatriation of revenues and income, should preclude the possibility of double taxation, and should address expropriation and regulatory matters pertaining to facts and disputes created after its entry into force. Donors can contribute to cross-border investment by establishing funds that can be used to build equity positions in Palestinian firms and to create joint ventures with Palestinian partners, as well as by continuing to offer risk insurance and guarantees to investors.

The introduction of these new economic arrangements will require intensive bilateral cooperation. This would be facilitated in particular by the establishment of a Joint Israeli-Palestinian Economic Committee, as well as by regular dialogue at experts’ level to exchange views on all areas of economic policy. The establishment of an Israeli-Palestinian Development Fund should be considered; this institution could play a major role in encouraging a variety of joint activities, such as industrial estates, business ventures for domestic and external markets, tourism projects and joint public/private infrastructure initiatives.

The transitional period requires, above all, a vigorous effort to stimulate Palestinian economic recovery. This can only be done by restoring movement and predictability in transactions. Three basic ingredients are required to achieve this: (a) an unencumbered flow of goods across borders and within the West Bank and Gaza; (b) an unencumbered flow of persons within the Palestinian Territories, coupled with a flows of workers to Israel, which regains some stability and predictability; and (c) the continued uninterrupted flow of fiscal transfers from Israel to the Palestinian Authority. The meaning and operation of a Palestinian state with provisional borders, as envisaged under Phase II, needs thorough exploration, since it will serve as the precursor to full economic independence. Phase II arrangements must realistically be based on a “Paris Plus” formula – that is, the full implementation of the modified Paris Protocol. Phase II arrangements should include measures that ensure territorial viability, i.e., the creation of internal contiguity and the inception of economic control over external borders. Steps should be taken to denote emerging sovereignty, including the right to issue currency and the granting of observer status in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the UN, the World Bank and the WTO. Attention should also be given to the development of institutions that will reinforce cooperation and resolve disputes.


Statement by the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
at the meeting with leaders of the Geneva Initiative
Brussels, 2 February 2004

EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana met on 2 February 2004 with Yasser Abed Rabbo, member of the PLO Executive Committee and former Minister of Information of the Palestinian Authority, and with Yossi Beilin, member of the Knesset and former Minister of Justice of Israel, both current leaders of the Geneva Initiative for peace in the Middle East. On the occasion, Mr. Solana made the following statement:

I want to commend both Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abed Rabbo for this important initiative for peace in the Middle East. I welcome all civil society initiatives of this nature and I am convinced that the agreement they signed in Geneva last December will bring new impetus to the Middle East peace process.

The Geneva Initiative, promoted simultaneously by Israelis and Palestinians, has led to a very intense, healthy and timely debate on both sides about the many issues related to the current conflict. This has helped to press forward possible answers for achieving peace in the region.

The European Union remains firmly committed to the solutions laid out in the Quartet’s Road Map. The efforts of all those involved in the Geneva Initiative are an important complement to the formal negotiations.




Comments by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland after his meeting
with the promoters of the Geneva Initiative
Dublin, 11 March 2004

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Brian Cowen, met on 11 March 2004 with the promoters of the Geneva Initiative, Amram Mitzna and Yasser Abed Rabbo. At a press conference after the meeting, Mr. Cowen made the following statement:

I am pleased to welcome this joint Israeli-Palestinian delegation to Dublin today and to hear first hand about what is known as the Geneva Initiative or the Geneva Accord.

I want to thank Mr. Mitzna and Mr. Abed Rabbo for their comprehensive briefing.

The Geneva Accord is a welcome development and demonstrates that rational discourse from civil society on both sides is possible.

The fact that the Initiative discusses solutions to final status issues, such as the right of return of Palestinians and the future of Jerusalem, is very positive and welcome.

The Quartet Road Map, we believe, contains all the elements for a permanent solution. As the Presidency of the European Union, we are working with the other members of the international Quartet to advance the implementation of the Road Map and the fulfilment by both sides of their obligations under the Road Map.

Any further international initiatives, therefore, must be in the framework of the Road Map, and we recognize that the Geneva Initiative complements what the Quartet is doing to implement the Road Map fully.





Conclusions of the Presidency of the European Council
Brussels, 26 March 2004


The European Council met in Brussels on 25 and 26 March 2004 for its annual meeting. The following are excerpts from the conclusions of the Council’s Presidency on the Middle East peace process:



V. International situation

Middle East Peace Process

51. The European Council expressed its deep concern at the situation in the Middle East and the deepening of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, following in particular the extrajudicial killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. While having repeatedly condemned terrorist atrocities against Israelis and recognized Israel’s right to protect its citizens against terrorist attacks, the European Union has consistently opposed extrajudicial killings, which are contrary to international law. The present cycle of retaliatory violence has caused widespread suffering and loss of life, has inflamed the situation and is taking the parties ever further from a negotiated settlement.

52. The European Council expressed its sympathy for those on all sides who endure the effects of violence or whose lives are disrupted by the conflict. It called on the Palestinian Authority to address the issue of security and combat terrorism and welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s announcement of plans for improving Palestinian security performance, stressing the need for full and proper implementation. It noted with particular concern the grievous humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and called on the Israeli Government to take action to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians by lifting prohibitions on movement, reversing its settlement policy and dismantling settlements built after March 2001 and reversing the construction of the so-called “security fence” on Palestinian land.

53. The European Council confirmed its deep conviction that the Quartet Road Map, endorsed by Security Council resolution 1515 (2003), remains the basis for reaching a peaceful settlement. It called on all sides to refrain from further escalation and to take the steps required to begin the implementation of the Road Map. The most important step is for all sides to desist from all further acts of violence.

54. The European Council renewed its commitment to a negotiated agreement resulting in two viable, sovereign and independent states, Israel and Palestine, based on the borders of 1967, 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 drawn up by the Quartet. The European Union will not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties.

55. The European Council noted the proposals for an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Such a withdrawal could represent a significant step towards the implementation of the Road Map, provided that, in accordance with the deliberations of the Council of 23 February:
56. The European Union stands ready to support the Palestinian Authority in taking responsibility for law and order and, in particular, in improving the capacity of its civil police and law enforcement capacity in general. The European Council tasked the EU Special Representative, in liaison with the Commission, to examine the requirements of the PA in this area and make recommendations for assistance.

57. The European Council called on the Israeli and Palestinian peoples to summon the political will necessary to overcome the current impasse in the peace process. Only through peace and reconciliation will Israelis and Palestinians realize their full potential.

58. The European Council reaffirms the need to deal with all the crises of the region within the framework of a global approach, which alone can ensure the long-term security of the region. With that purpose, the EU will mobilize all its instruments and will develop its vision for stability in the region through the strategic partnership which it is seeking to establish with the Mediterranean and the Middle East.



Report by the Independent Task Force on
Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions
New York, 1 April 2004


The following are excerpts from the report by the Independent Task Force on Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions, supported by the European Commission and the Government of Norway:
Introduction
The Palestinian Authority (PA) reform process has been stalled since March 2003. Israeli measures undertaken in the name of security have been a major impediment, but so have internal Palestinian political factors. Primary among these have been resistance to reform on the part of President Yasser Arafat, his associates and allies among the PA senior bureaucracy and Fatah militants, as well as a combination of unwillingness and inability on the part of the two successive prime ministers to focus consistently on the reform agenda.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s proposal in the first quarter of 2004 to implement a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip has triggered further challenges to the PA’s internal control and authority in the short term, and in the medium term poses strategic risks as well as opportunities for the PA’s survival and the reform process. In the short run, general political elections may be the most effective means of ending the PA’s political paralysis in dealing with reform and the peace process.



The international community’s role

The international community has not lost its ability to play an effective role in encouraging and assisting PA reform. President Arafat’s recent willingness to allow payment of security service salaries by bank transfer is a case in point, though it had to resort to punitive measures that may have contributed to the decline in the PA’s domestic and international standing. Whether or not further significant reforms can be effectively triggered through coercive means is not at all certain, given the PA’s parlous political state and institutional incapacity. The international community might nonetheless focus on the following in the coming period:



B. Israeli withdrawal from Gaza

Finally, the international community might also assist the PA to respond effectively to an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in the following ways:





Statement by US President George W. Bush on the peace process and the
Gaza disengagement plan and his letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Washington, D.C., 14 April 2004


In a letter addressed to US President George W. Bush, Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, had announced Israel’s disengagement plan from Gaza. An exchange of letters between the two leaders took place on 14 April 2004 at the White House in Washington. During the meeting, President Bush made a statement and presented a letter to Prime Minister Sharon. Excerpts of the statement and the letter are reproduced below:

Statement by President Bush

I remain hopeful and determined to find a way forward towards a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

The Israeli plan

I welcome the disengagement plan prepared by the Government of Israel, under which Israel would withdraw certain military installations and all settlements from Gaza, and withdraw certain military installations and settlements in the West Bank. These steps will mark real progress toward realizing the vision I set forth in June 2002 of two States living side by side in peace and security, and make a real contribution toward peace.

I am hopeful that steps pursuant to this plan, consistent with this vision, will remind all States and parties of their own obligations under the Road Map.

The path to peace

I believe certain principles, which are very widely accepted in the international community, show us the path forward. The right of self-defence and the need to fight terrorism are equally matters of international agreement. The two-State vision and the Road Map for peace designed to implement it, command nearly universal support as the best means of achieving a permanent peace and an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967. Security Council resolutions have repeatedly spoken of the desirability of establishing two independent States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognized borders.

Having these principles in mind, the United States is able to make the following comments.

Peace plans

The United States remains committed to the vision of two States living side by side in peace and security, and its implementation as described in the Road Map. The United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan.

Security

There will be no security for Israelis or Palestinians until they and all States, in the region and beyond, join together to fight terrorism and dismantle terrorist organizations. The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats. The United States will join with others in the international community to strengthen the capacity and will of Palestinian security forces to fight terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.

Terrorism

Israel will retain its right to defend itself against terrorism, including to take actions against terrorist organizations. The United States will lead efforts, working together with Jordan, Egypt and others in the international community, to build the capacity and will of Palestinian institutions to fight terrorism, dismantle terrorist organizations and prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat that would have to be addressed by any other means. The United States understands that, after Israel withdraws from Gaza and/or parts of the West Bank, and pending agreements on other arrangements, existing arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters, and land passages of the West Bank and Gaza will continue.

The two-State solution

The United States remains committed to the two-State solution for peace in the Middle East, as set forth in June, 2002 and to the Road Map as the best path to realize that vision.

The goal of two independent States has repeatedly been recognized in international resolutions and agreements, and it remains a key to resolving this conflict. The United States is strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish state. It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian State, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.

As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-State solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.

Palestinian statehood

The United States supports the establishment of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent, so that the Palestinian people can build their own future in accordance with the vision I set forth in June 2002 and with the path set forth in the Road Map. The United States will join with others in the international community to foster the development of democratic political institutions and new leadership committed to those institutions, the reconstruction of civic institutions, the growth of a free and prosperous economy and the building of capable security institutions dedicated to maintaining law and order and dismantling terrorist organizations.

Palestinian obligations

Under the Road Map, Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel. The Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted, and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Palestinians must undertake a comprehensive and fundamental political reform that includes a strong parliamentary democracy and an empowered prime minister.

Israeli obligations

The Government of Israel is committed to take additional steps on the West Bank, including progress towards a freeze on settlement activity, removing unauthorized outposts and improving the humanitarian situation by easing restrictions on the movement of Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.
As the Government of Israel has stated, the barrier being erected by Israel should be a security rather than political barrier, should be temporary rather than permanent and therefore not prejudice any final status issues including final borders, and its route should take into account, consistent with security needs, its impact on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.

Regional cooperation

A peace settlement negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians would be a great boon not only to those peoples but to the peoples of the entire region. Accordingly, all States in the region have special responsibilities: to support the building of the institutions of a Palestinian State; to fight terrorism and cut off all forms of assistance to individuals and groups engaged in terrorism; and to begin now to move toward more normal relations with the State of Israel. These actions would be true contributions to building peace in the region.


Letter from President Bush to Prime Minister Sharon

Dear Mr. Prime Minister:



The United States appreciates the risks such an undertaking represents. I therefore want to reassure you on several points.

First, the United States remains committed to my vision and to its implementation as described in the Road Map. The United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan. Under the Road Map, Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel. The Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Palestinians must undertake a comprehensive and fundamental political reform that includes a strong parliamentary democracy and an empowered prime minister.

Second, there will be no security for Israelis or Palestinians until they and all States, in the region and beyond, join together to fight terrorism and dismantle terrorist organizations. The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats.

Third, Israel will retain its right to defend itself against terrorism, including to take actions against terrorist organizations. The United States will lead efforts, working together with Jordan, Egypt and others in the international community, to build the capacity and will of Palestinian institutions to fight terrorism, dismantle terrorist organizations, and prevent the areas from which Israel has withdrawn from posing a threat that would have to be addressed by any other means. The United States understands that, after Israel withdraws from Gaza and/or parts of the West Bank, and pending agreements on other arrangements, existing arrangements regarding control of airspace, territorial waters and land passages of the West Bank and Gaza will continue. The United States is strongly committed to Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish state. It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian State, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.

As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-State solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.

I know that, as you state in your letter, you are aware that certain responsibilities face the State of Israel. Among these, your Government has stated that the barrier being erected by Israel should be a security rather than political barrier, should be temporary rather than permanent and therefore not prejudice any final status issues, including final borders, and its route should take into account, consistent with security needs, its impact on Palestinians not engaged in terrorist activities.

As you know, the United States supports the establishment of a Palestinian state that is viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent, so that the Palestinian people can build their own future in accordance with my vision set forth in June 2002 and with the path set forth in the Road Map. The United States will join with others in the international community to foster the development of democratic political institutions and new leadership committed to those institutions, the reconstruction of civic institutions, the growth of a free and prosperous economy and the building of capable security institutions dedicated to maintaining law and order and dismantling terrorist organizations.

A peace settlement negotiated between Israelis and Palestinians would be a great boon not only to those peoples but to the peoples of the entire region. Accordingly, the United States believes that all States in the region have special responsibilities: to support the building of the institutions of a Palestinian State; to fight terrorism and cut off all forms of assistance to individuals and groups engaged in terrorism; and to begin now to move toward more normal relations with the State of Israel. These actions would be true contributions to building peace in the region.

Mr. Prime Minister, you have described a bold and historic initiative that can make an important contribution to peace. I commend your efforts and your courageous decision, which I support. As a close friend and ally, the United States intends to work closely with you to help make it a success.



Gaza disengagement plan
15 April 2004

The following is the text of the Gaza disengagement plan that was issued on 15 April 2004 by the office of Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon:

I. Overview

Israel is committed to the peace process, and aspires to reach a mutual agreement on the basis of two states for two peoples, the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, as part of the realization of President [George W.] Bush’s vision.

Israel believes that it must act to improve the current reality. Israel has come to the conclusion that, at present, there is no Palestinian partner with whom it is possible to make progress on a bilateral agreement. In light of this, a unilateral disengagement plan has been formulated, which is based on the following considerations:

A. The stagnation inherent in the current situation is harmful. In order to emerge from this stagnation, Israel must initiate a move that will not be contingent on Palestinian cooperation;

B. The plan will lead to a better security reality, at least in the long term;

C. In any future final-status agreement, there will be no Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip. However, it is clear that in Judea and Samaria, some areas will remain part of the State of Israel, among them civilian settlements, military zones and places where Israel has additional interests;

D. The exit from the Gaza Strip and from the area of northern Samaria (four settlements and military installations in their environs) will reduce friction with the Palestinian population and has the potential to improve the fabric of Palestinian life and the Palestinian economy;

E. Israel hopes that the Palestinians will have the sense to take advantage of the disengagement move in order to exit the cycle of violence and rejoin the process of dialogue;

F. The disengagement move will obviate the claims about Israel with regard to its responsibility for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip;

G. The disengagement move does not detract from the existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. The existing arrangements will continue to prevail.

When there is evidence on the Palestinian side of the willingness, ability and actual realization of a fight against terror and of the implementation of the reforms stipulated in the Road Map, it will be possible to return to the track of negotiations and dialogue.

II. Main points of the plan

A. The Gaza Strip

1. Israel will evacuate the Gaza Strip, including all the Israeli settlements currently existing there, and will redeploy outside the territory of the Strip. This, apart from military deployment along the border line between the Gaza Strip and Egypt (“Philadelphi Route”), will be detailed below;

2. Upon completion of the move, no permanent Israeli civilian or military presence in the areas that are evacuated in the continental expanse of the Gaza Strip will remain.

As a result, there will be no basis for the claim that the Gaza Strip is occupied territory.

B. Judea and Samaria

1. Israel will evacuate the area of northern Samaria (Ganim, Kadim, Homesh and Sa-Nur) and all the permanent military installations in this area, and will redeploy outside the evacuated area;

2. Upon completion of the move, no permanent presence of Israeli military forces and Israeli civilians in the area of northern Samaria will remain;

3. The move will enable Palestinian territorial contiguity in the area of northern Samaria;

4. Israel will improve the transportation infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, with the aim of enabling Palestinian transportation contiguity in Judea and Samaria;

5. The move will make Palestinian economic and commercial activity easier in Judea and Samaria;

C. The security fence

Israel will continue to build the security fence, in accordance with the relevant government decisions. The route will take humanitarian considerations into account.

III. Security reality after the evacuation

A. The Gaza Strip

1. Israel will supervise and guard the external envelope on land, will maintain exclusive control in the air space of Gaza and will continue to conduct military activities in the sea space of the Gaza Strip;

2. The Gaza Strip will be demilitarized and devoid of armaments, the presence of which is not in accordance with the existing agreements between the sides;

3. Israel reserves for itself the basic right of self-defence, including taking preventative steps as well as responding by using force against threats that will emerge from the Gaza Strip;

B. Judea and Samaria

1. Upon evacuation of the settlements from northern Samaria (Ganim, Kadim, Homesh and Sa-Nur), no permanent military presence will remain in their environs;

2. Israel reserves for itself the basic right of self-defence, including taking of preventative steps as well as responding with force against threats that emerge from this area;

3. In the rest of the Judea and Samaria territories, existing security activity will continue. However, in accordance with the circumstances, Israel will consider reducing its activity in Palestinian cities;

4. Israel will work towards reducing the number of checkpoints in Judea and Samaria as a whole.

IV. Military installations and infrastructures in the Gaza Strip and the northern Samaria area

In general, they will be dismantled and evacuated, except for those that Israel will decide to leave in place and transfer to a body that will be determined.

V. Nature of military aid to the Palestinians

Israel agrees that, in coordination with it, advice, aid and instruction will be given to Palestinian security forces for the purpose of fighting terror and maintaining public order by American, British, Egyptian, Jordanian or other experts, as will be agreed upon by Israel.

Israel insists that there will be no foreign security presence in the Gaza Strip and/or Judea and Samaria that is not in coordination with Israel and with Israel’s agreement.

VI. Border area between the Gaza Strip and Egypt ("Philadelphi Route")

During the first stage, Israel will continue to maintain a military presence along the border line between the Gaza Strip and Egypt (“Philadelphi Route”). This presence is an essential security need and, in certain places, it is possible that there will be a need for the physical enlargement of the area in which the military activity will be carried out.
Later on, the possibility of evacuating this area will be considered. The evacuation of this area will be contingent on, among other things, the security reality and the extent of Egypt’s cooperation in the creation of a more reliable arrangement.

If and when conditions emerge for the evacuation of this area, Israel will be prepared to examine the possibility of establishing a seaport and an airport in the Gaza Strip, subject to arrangements that will be determined with Israel.

VII. Israeli settlements

Israel will aspire to leave standing the real estate assets of the Israeli settlements (subject to the presence of an international body that will accept proprietorship, as noted below).

The transfer of Israeli economic activities to Palestinian use embodies within it a possibility for the expansion of Palestinian economic activity.

Israel proposes that an international body be established (on the model of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee), to be agreed upon by the United States and Israel, which will receive possession from Israel of the settlements that remain and will appraise the value of all the assets.

Israel reserves for itself the right to ask for consideration of the economic value of the assets that will be left in the evacuated area.

VIII. Infrastructures and civilian arrangements

The water, electricity, sewage and communications infrastructure that serve the Palestinians will be left in place.

Israel will aspire to leave in place the water, electricity and sewage infrastructure that serve the Israeli settlements that will be evacuated.

As a rule, Israel will enable the continued supply of electricity, water, gas and fuel to the Palestinians, under the existing arrangements.

The existing arrangements, including the arrangements with regard to water and the electromagnetic area, will remain valid.

IX. Activity of the international civilian organizations

Israel views very favourably continued activity of the international humanitarian organizations and those that deal with civil development, which aid the Palestinian population.

Israel will coordinate with the international organizations the arrangements that will make this activity easier.

X. Economic arrangements

In general, the economic arrangements that are currently in effect between Israel and the Palestinians will remain valid. These arrangements include, among other things:

A. The entry of workers into Israel in accordance with the existing criteria;

B. The movement of goods between the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria, Israel and foreign countries;

C. The monetary regime;

D. The taxation arrangements and the customs envelope;

E. Postal and communications arrangements.

XI. Erez Industrial Zone

The Erez Industrial Zone, which is located inside the Gaza Strip, employs approximately 4,000 Palestinian workers. The continued activity of the industrial zone is, above all, a definite Palestinian interest.

Israel will consider leaving the industrial zone in its current format under two conditions:

A. The maintenance of appropriate security arrangements;

B. An explicit recognition by the international community that the continued existence of the industrial zone in its current format will not be perceived as a continuation of Israeli control in the area.

Alternatively, the industrial zone will be transferred to the responsibility of an agreed-upon Palestinian or international element.

Israel will examine, together with Egypt, the possibility of establishing a joint industrial zone on the border of the Gaza Strip, Egypt and Israel.

XII. International crossing points

A. The international crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt

1. The existing arrangements will remain in force;

2. Israel is interested in transferring the crossing point to the “border triangle”, about two kilometres south of its current location; this will be done in coordination with the Egyptians. This will allow the expansion of the hours of activity at the crossing point.

B. The international crossing points between Judea and Samaria, and Jordan

The existing arrangements will remain in force.

XIII. Erez crossing point

The Erez crossing point will be moved into the territory of the State of Israel, according to a timetable that will be determined separately.

XIV. Timetable

The evacuation process is planned for completion by the end of 2005.

The stages of the evacuation and the detailed timetable will be made known to the Americans.

XV. Summary

Israel expects broad international support for the disengagement move. This support is essential in order to bring the Palestinians to actually implement what is incumbent upon them in the areas of fighting terror and the carrying out of the reforms according to the Road Map, at which time the sides will be able to return to negotiations.



Statement by the EU Council President on the situation in the Middle East
Tullamore, Ireland, 16 April 2004


At their informal meeting in Tullamore, Ireland, on 16 April 2004 (Gymnich), Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the States members of the European Union discussed the situation in the Middle East and assessed the outcome of the recent meeting in Washington between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon. Following the meeting, the President of the Council of the European Union, Mr. Brian Cowen, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, issued the following statement approved by the Ministers:

The European Union reaffirms its commitment to a negotiated two-State solution agreed between the parties, which would result in a viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State existing side by side in peace with an Israel living within recognized and secure borders. The Union reaffirms its belief that the Road Map represents the only route to achieving such an outcome. The Union is determined to pursue vigorously the course set out in the Road Map and calls on both sides to fulfil their obligations under the Road Map.

The European Union recalls its established position, restated by the European Council of 25 and 26 March, that the Union will not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties. The Union emphasises that no declared views on the possible shape of a final settlement can pre-empt the negotiation of that settlement.

The European Union also notes that the refugee question and the manner in which the right of return may be realized is also a final status issue and that the Road Map states that a final and comprehensive permanent status agreement that ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must include an agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to this question.

In this context, the Union notes President Bush’s reaffirmation of the United States’ commitment to the Road Map and to a negotiated settlement.

The European Union emphasizes the principle, shared by President Bush, that final status issues are a matter for negotiation and agreement between the parties themselves and must not be prejudged.

The European Union notes President Bush’s agreement that secure and recognized borders should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). These and other relevant Security Council resolutions must form the basis for a just and lasting settlement of the conflict.

The European Union welcomes the prospect of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The European Council has stated that such a withdrawal could represent a significant step towards the implementation of the Road Map, provided that it is carried out in accordance with certain conditions. This is an opportunity which the international community led by the Quartet should seize.

The proposed withdrawal should be properly orchestrated with the international community so as to ensure that an orderly situation in Gaza results, which will permit the maintenance of security as well as rehabilitation and reconstruction. The Union urges all parties to undertake urgently preparations towards this end.

On that basis, the European Union reiterates its readiness to support the Palestinian Authority in taking responsibility for law and order, as well as to continue the Union’s existing aid to the Palestinian Authority and to examine possible future needs which may arise in the context of a new situation in Gaza.

The Union stresses the need to avoid a political vacuum, and the dangers which that would involve, in the interim period between now and the beginning of any withdrawal. It recalls that there are a number of measures which need to be adopted in the period immediately ahead in the political, security and humanitarian spheres in order to prevent further deterioration and to resume progress.

The European Union urges an end to violence and terrorism, as well as the resumption of a ceasefire embracing all parties and groups. It calls on both sides to resume negotiations on the peace process without further delay.

The European Union recalls that a just, lasting and comprehensive peace must meet the legitimate aspirations of both the Israeli and Palestinian people and must include Lebanon and Syria.

The European Union also calls on all States in the region to exert every effort to promote peace and to combat terrorism.

The European Union looks forward to an early meeting of the Quartet at the principals’ level. The Quartet should play an active role in pursuing the goal of a comprehensive regional peace and encourage the parties to move ahead vigorously on the basis of the principles outlined above.

Mr. Cowen said that the ministers had asked the Secretary-General/High Representative, the Commission and the Special Representative to the Peace Process to work on concrete measures to make a success of disengagement from Gaza, working with the Palestinians, the Israeli Government and the other members of the Quartet.





Declaration on Palestine issued by the OIC Al-Quds Committee
Putrajaya, Malaysia, 22 April 2004


The following declaration was issued on 22 April 2004 by the Al-Quds Committee of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) at the special meeting on the Middle East that was held in Putrajaya, Malaysia:

1. We, the ministers and heads of delegation representing members of the Committee of Al-Quds, the Committee of Six on Palestine, the troika of the tenth session of the Islamic Summit Conference and the troika of the thirtieth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers gathered in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on 2 Rabiulawal 1425 H (22 April 2004) for the special meeting on the Middle East.

2. We fully applaud the inspiring and thought-provoking address by the Honourable Dato’ Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi, Prime Minister of Malaysia, in his capacity as Chair of the tenth session of the Islamic Summit Conference, during the opening ceremony.

3. We express our unequivocal support to the Palestinian people and their legitimate national authority under the leadership of President Yasser Arafat in their resistance to Israeli aggression. In this connection, we demand an immediate end to the blockade imposed against them and their leadership so as to ensure their right to freedom of movement within and outside Palestine.

4. We emphasize our unwavering political, material and moral support and backing to the Palestinian people and their rights of resistance, as well as their struggle to put an end to the Israeli occupation of all Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, and in order to empower the Palestinian people to regain their inalienable rights, including their right of return and their right to self determination.

5. We also reaffirm the need to establish an independent Palestinian State with Al-Quds Sharif as its capital, and the need to implement all the international resolutions pertaining to Palestine and the Middle East, particularly Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), General Assembly resolution 194 (III) on the return of Palestinian refugees and Security Council resolutions on the cause of Al­Quds, namely, 252 (1968), 267 (1969), 465 (1980), 476 (1980), 478 (1980), 1073 (1996), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003), as well as the Arab Peace Initiative and the Road Map.

6. We reaffirm our commitment to the peace process in the Middle East on the basis of full implementation of the Road Map and the Arab Peace Initiative.

7. We strongly reject the recent unilateral Israeli plan, as it breaches the resolutions of international legitimacy and contradicts the provisions stipulated in the Road Map.

8. We emphasize that the plan and the support of the United States thereto are detrimental to the peace process in the Middle East, as they are denying the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, particularly with regard to the final settlement issues, and call upon the US Government to review its recent position, which is counter productive to the objectives of the Road Map. We also affirm that no party has the right to make any concession to Israel on the Palestinian national rights or to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people and their legitimate and democratically elected leadership on these issues.

9. We call on the Quartet to intensify its efforts towards achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative, the Road Map and relevant agreements and resolutions, and reject any unilateral measures that are not in line with these.

10. We urge the Security Council to consider the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force or an international monitoring mechanism to monitor the implementation of the Road Map for peace in the Middle East.

11. We call on the United Nations and the international community to demand Israel to stop and reverse the construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including in and around East Jerusalem, which is in departure of the Armistice Line of 1949 and in contradiction to relevant provisions of international law (operative paragraph 1 of General Assembly resolution ES-10/13), remove the completed parts of the Wall, halt the Israeli settlement activities in the Palestinian territories and implement the relevant United Nations resolutions, particularly Security Council resolution 465 (1980) which affirmed the illegitimacy of such settlements and the need to dismantle existing settlements.

12. We urge the Security Council to assume its responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, by demanding that Israel cease without any further delay its policy and practice of state terrorism, which have killed and continue to kill civilians through extrajudicial executions and targeted killings; collective punishments; ceaseless invasions and reoccupation of Palestinian towns, villages and refugee camps; demolition of Palestinian National Authority physical and institutional infrastructures; and the strangulation of the Palestinian national economy. We condemn the assassination of the Palestinian leaders as a clear example of state terrorism and in contravention of the basic principles of international law. We emphasize the need to implement adequate measures to provide the necessary international protection for the Palestinian people and for the Christian and Muslim sacred places of worship and religious significance, as well as to work towards securing the release of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, including juveniles, from Israeli prisons and detention centres.

13. We are convinced of the need for all member States of the OIC to take practical measures without any further delay to implement all relevant OIC resolutions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to move the Middle East peace process forward as well as an expression of unflinching support and solidarity with the Palestinian leadership and people.

14. We agree to establish a ministerial delegation to make immediate contacts with the members of the Quartet, members of the Security Council and other organizations deemed appropriate, with the aim of explaining to them the position of the OIC on these grave developments as well as to engage them on issues relating to the peace process. The ministerial delegation should also urge these parties to mobilize and intensify their efforts to put an end to the Israeli aggression and repressive policies and practices against the Palestinian leadership and people, and to work towards the full implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, the Road Map and other agreements to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

15. We call on civil society, relevant non-governmental organizations as well as peace movements the world over to express their support for the plight of the Palestinian people through peaceful means.





Final communiqué of the ministerial meeting
of the NAM Committee on Palestine
Putrajaya, Malaysia, 13 May 2004


The following are excerpts of the final communiqué of the ministerial meeting of the Committee on Palestine of the Non-Aligned Movement, which was held on 13 May 2004 in Putrajaya, Malaysia:



2. The ministers expressed their grave concern at the continuous deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. They condemned the continuing Israeli military campaign against the Palestinian people, including the systematic human rights violations and reported war crimes. They condemned the wilful killings of civilians, in particular extrajudicial killings, including those that recently took place in Gaza City, which threatened to further destabilize the prevailing perilous situation. They condemned the continuing settler colonialism as well as the building of the expansionist wall. The ministers also condemned the more than two-year confinement of President Yasser Arafat by the occupying Power and the repeated threats against his life, safety and well-being. They expressed their solidarity with the democratically elected President of the Palestinian Authority and stressed the necessity for ending both the confinement and threats.

3. The ministers reiterated their deep regret that the Road Map had yet to be implemented and that the situation had been gravely aggravated by the Israeli Prime Minister’s “unilateral disengagement plan”, as well as the Israeli-American exchange of letters. The ministers affirmed that the above-mentioned plan, as well as several passages within the letters, violated international law and relevant Security Council resolutions, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, including the Palestine refugees, and were in complete departure from the Road Map. Accordingly, the ministers affirmed that the plan and the letters were unacceptable and could not alter the terms of reference of the peace process nor alter the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

4. The ministers expressed the hope that the international community and the Quartet would undertake the necessary measures to salvage the Road Map and implement its provisions towards its stated aims and goals. They noted the outcome of the latest meeting of the Quartet on 4 May 2004. They also noted the reaffirmation by the members of the Quartet of their commitment to the Road Map and its terms of reference and the position that any Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip should be a full withdrawal and a complete end to the occupation of the Gaza Strip and should be part of the Road Map. They further noted the need, however, for a decisive position calling for the complete cessation of settlement activities and of the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as essential for the survival of the Road Map. They called for respect for the timeline agreed in the Road Map, in particular the establishment of the State of Palestine in 2005. They also called on the Quartet to engage the Security Council, considering the Council’s Charter authority and its responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security.

5. The ministers expressed grave concern about the vast devastation being caused by the expansionist wall that Israel continued to construct in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and affirmed that, if completed, the Wall would render the two-State solution practically impossible to achieve. They condemned Israel’s non-compliance with the demand of the tenth emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly to stop and reverse the construction of the wall, and to remove the existing parts of the wall, and, in this regard, they reiterated the need for the complete cessation of all Israeli colonial settlement activities. They welcomed the referral of the matter to the International Court of Justice and expressed confidence that the Court would issue an advisory opinion versed in international law. They stressed the importance and centrality of such an advisory opinion and called for serious and comprehensive follow-up of the advisory opinion by the United Nations organs and regional organizations, as well as by the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

6. The ministers affirmed the important role, as well as the responsibility, of the Security Council with regard to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They called on the Security Council to fulfil its responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations with regard to the violation of international law and the maintenance of international peace and security in relation to the tragic situation on the ground as well as to peace efforts. In addition, the ministers urged the Security Council authorize an international presence and establish a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. They also called for compliance with all relevant Security Council resolutions and stressed the importance and usefulness of a comprehensive Security Council resolution in view of the current circumstances.

7. The ministers expressed their commitment to a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the rights of the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination and to sovereignty in their State, Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital. In this regard, they welcomed the adoption of General Assembly resolution 58/292, entitled “Status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”, on 6 May 2004. They welcomed the convening of the meeting of the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in Cape Town, South Africa, in June 2004. They also agreed that this question would be further discussed at the fourteenth NAM ministerial meeting in Durban, South Africa, in August 2004.

8. The ministers stressed the vital role that should continue to be played by the Non-Aligned Movement, in which the Chair would lead the efforts with regard to the question of Palestine and towards a comprehensive peace in the region. They stressed the importance of ongoing contact and dialogue at the ministerial level with the members of the Quartet, as well as with the permanent members of the Security Council. In this regard, they agreed to establish a ministerial delegation to be led by the Chair to undertake the necessary contacts with the relevant parties influential in the peace process, with a view to facilitating the achievement of a just, durable and comprehensive peace in the region. They also stressed the importance of the work at the United Nations and urged NAM member States to increase their efforts and to instruct their representatives to follow-up with regard to the above-mentioned positions.

9. The ministers recognized the need to further mobilize international public opinion on the question and to encourage the international community, in particular NAM member States, to support and engage in activities that would contribute to reaching a just, durable and comprehensive peace in the Middle East region. In this regard, they acknowledged the important role of members of civil society the world over, including those in Israel, and invited them to contribute towards that process.

10. The ministers recognized the need for the convening at the United Nations of a special meeting on Palestine at the beginning of the forthcoming fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly, in cooperation with other international and regional groupings, to further mobilize the international community in support of the two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders. They also urged that a civil society public forum be convened in parallel with that meeting.




Declaration of the sixteenth session of the Arab Summit
Tunis, 22-23 May 2004


The following declaration was adopted at the sixteenth ordinary session of the Summit of the League of Arab States, held in Tunis on 22 and 23 May 2004:



1.1 The commitment of all international parties to materialize the principles of international legality and the UN resolutions pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict, without excluding any of the legal references of the peace process, constitutes the basis for a just, comprehensive and durable settlement to this conflict, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and in implementation of the Road Map.

The international community should join its efforts so as to provide the necessary protection for the Palestinian people against the continuing acts of killing and deportation they are enduring, and also to put an end to the policy of assassination perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian political leaders and to the siege imposed on the Palestinian people and their leadership, as well as to the aggressions targeting civilians without distinction. Joining these efforts would pave the way for the resumption of peace talks and would enable the brotherly Palestinian people to recover their legitimate rights, in the forefront of which is the establishment of their independent state with East El-Quds as its capital, as well as the evacuation of all the Arab occupied territories, including the occupied Syrian Golan and the Lebanese Chabâa Farms.

1.2 Achieving these legitimate objectives would provide propitious conditions for building confidence and for establishing a just, durable and comprehensive peace in the region, by convening an international conference aimed at ridding the Middle East region, including Israel, of weapons of mass destruction. This will lay the foundations for a new era of entente, based on a mutual commitment to peace as a strategic choice, and will enable the Arab Nation and all countries in the region to focus their efforts on taking up the challenges confronting them and on pursuing the development action.

...



EU-US joint declaration supporting peace, progress and
reform in the broader Middle East and in the Mediterranean
Dromoland Castle, Ireland, 26 June 2004


At the annual United States-European Union summit that took place at Dromoland Castle, Ireland, on 26 June 2004, the United States and the European Union issued a joint declaration supporting peace, progress and reform in the broader Middle East and in the Mediterranean. Excerpts from the declaration are reproduced below:



5. We reaffirm our commitment to a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Progress towards a negotiated peace settlement in the Middle East and towards reform will be mutually reinforcing. Neither should be a precondition nor a substitute for the other. We support the work of the Quartet on the Road Map and endorse its declaration of 4 May 2004. We also welcome the League of Arab States’ continued support for the Road Map as expressed at the summit meeting held in Tunis on 22 and 23 May and the League’s rejection of acts of violence against civilians, without distinction. We reiterate our common vision of two States, Israel and a viable, democratic, sovereign and contiguous Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. We welcome and support the efforts of Governments in the countries concerned to contribute to a settlement of this conflict, including the announced intention of Israeli withdrawal from all Gaza settlements and from parts of the West Bank, which can be a step towards achieving the two-State solution and has the possibility of restarting progress on the Road Map. We call for an end of all acts of violence and terrorism.

We support all efforts, including those by Egypt, to resolve critical security issues relating to Gaza. In this context, any unilateral initiative should be undertaken in a manner consistent with the Road Map and the two-State vision. At the same time, we welcome the establishment of the World Bank Trust Fund and urge international support for this important initiative for Palestinian economic and social reconstruction.

6. We will build upon our respective policy frameworks and instruments. For the US, the Middle East Partnership Initiative is a key instrument, together with other bilateral instruments. For the EU, cooperation is based primarily on its Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the EU-Gulf Cooperation Council Cooperation Agreement, the EU Neighbourhood Policy and other bilateral or multilateral initiatives, including the EU Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean and the Middle East, as recently adopted by the European Council. We welcome the G-8 plan of support for reform, including the establishment of the “Forum for the Future”. In this context, we pledge to work with each other in concrete areas.



7. In order to follow up on these initiatives, we have agreed to find better ways to coordinate our respective efforts with each other and in partnership and dialogue with Governments and representatives of civil society and business sectors in the countries concerned. In all instances, we will seek to respond to the impetus for reform stemming from the individual countries concerned. We will make full use of the existing structures of cooperation and dialogue between the EU and US, such as the Senior Level Group, to ensure that opportunities for cooperation and synergy between our respective programmes are availed of to the full.




Address by US President George W. Bush to the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly
New York, 21 September 2004


The following excerpts are from United States President George Bush’s address to the fifty-ninth session of the General Assembly on 21 September 2004:

...

This commitment to democratic reform is essential to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers who intimidate opposition, tolerate corruption and maintain ties to terrorist groups. The long-suffering Palestinian people deserve better. They deserve true leaders capable of creating and governing a free and peaceful Palestinian state.

Even after the setbacks and frustrations of recent months, goodwill and hard effort can achieve the promise of the road map to peace. Those who would lead a new Palestinian state should adopt peaceful means to achieve the rights of their people and create the reformed institutions of a stable democracy. Arab states should end incitement in their own media, cut off public and private funding for terrorism and establish normal relations with Israel. Israel should impose a settlement freeze, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people and avoid any actions that prejudice final negotiations. And world leaders should withdraw all favours and support from any Palestinian ruler who fails his people and betrays their cause.



Statement by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the Road Map
Israel, 6 October 2004


The following statement was made by Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, on 6 October 2004:

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon supports the Road Map, which is the only plan that will enable progress towards a lasting political settlement. The blame for the current stalemate lies with Palestinians, who are refusing to honour their commitments and who are continuing to cling to the path of terrorism, violence and incitement.

In the absence of a Palestinian partner, the Government initiated the Disengagement plan in order to bolster Israel’s diplomatic position, improve its ability to protect its citizens and ease the suffering of the civilian population until such time as there is a Palestinian partner who will fulfil all Road Map commitments with whom it will be possible to negotiate and make progress towards peace.





Conclusions of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Brussels, 5 November 2004


The following are excerpts from the Conclusions of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, issued in Brussels on 5 November 2004:

...

Middle East

1. The European Council expresses its solidarity with the Palestinian people in this difficult moment. It encourages the Palestinian leadership to demonstrate a strong sense of responsibility in ensuring the regular functioning of Palestinian institutions. The European Council considers that it is essential that a legitimate leadership continues to resolutely pursue the path towards peace in the Middle East.

2. The European Council, recalling the established EU positions, remains committed to the two-State solution as laid out in the Road Map and agreed between the parties, which would result in a viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State existing side by side in peace with an Israel living within recognized and secure borders.

3. The European Council welcomes the Knesset vote on 26 October to support an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and part of the northern West Bank. The European Council expresses its willingness to support such a withdrawal as a first step in the overall process, in accordance with the conditions laid out by the European Council in March 2004, among which that it take place in the context of the Road Map. The European Council also recalls the Quartet statement of 22 September.

4. The European Council endorses the short-term programme of action in the fields of security, reforms, elections and economy proposed by the High Representative. It underlines in particular its readiness to support the electoral process in the Palestinian territories. The European Council calls on the Palestinian Authority to organize elections in accordance with international standards under the authority of an independent electoral commission, and calls upon Israel to facilitate these elections.

5. The European Council stresses that these initiatives will need full cooperation from and between the parties, as well as coordination with other partners involved, especially in the region – in particular with Egypt – and within the Quartet. The European Council reiterates its readiness to support the Palestinian Authority in taking responsibility for law and order. The European Council invites the High Representative and the Commission to present regular progress reports on the implementation of these initiatives.

6. At the same time, with a view to relaunching a meaningful political process of negotiations, the European Council considers that support for these short-term proposals would be enhanced if they could be placed within a broader political perspective. It invites the High Representative to conduct consultations to that effect with the parties, the international community and, especially, the other members of the Quartet.

7. The European Council reiterates its condemnation of violence and terrorism, and urges the resumption of a ceasefire embracing all parties and groups.




EU memorandum on EU-Mediterranean partnership
Brussels, 10 December 2004


The following excerpts are from the EU memorandum on EU-Mediterranean partnership issued on 10 December 2004:

The EU Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East was adopted by the European Union in Brussels in June 2004. It provides a policy framework for these two regions, with a view to promoting political, economic and social reform, generated from within the affected societies, as well as contributing to their socio-economic development. From its inception in the 1950s, the European Union has placed a high priority on establishing and maintaining a close and special relationship with its neighbours from the Mediterranean and Middle East. This is a longstanding partnership, which today is governed by two distinct but complementary “frameworks”: the global Euro-Mediterranean partnership, also known as the Barcelona Process and now enhanced by the European Neighbourhood Policy, and the EU’s relations with the countries of the Gulf and the Middle East region. The EU’s involvement in the Middle East peace process, to which the EU attaches great importance, is of crucial significance to both these frameworks.

The Middle East Peace Process

Through economic, diplomatic and humanitarian means, the EU is a major contributor to the Middle East Peace Process. As one of the four members in the Quartet (with Russia, the United States and the United Nations, the EU promotes a comprehensive, just and lasting peace and prosperity for the area. The EU takes a leading role in the international donors’ conference for the Peace Process (Ad Hoc Liaison Committee) and the international Task Force on Palestinian Reform. Through its Partnership for Peace programme (approximately €10 million per year), the EU supports activities that promote direct contacts and dialogue between the parties and contribute to the reawakening of the peace process.

The EU (Commission plus Member States) is the largest donor of financial and technical assistance to the Palestinian Authority, providing over 50 per cent of the international community’s financing for the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the beginning of the peace process. Total community aid to the Palestinians since 1994 has been over €2 billion in grants, of which the largest part has been allocated to Palestinian institution-building and promotion of reform, good governance, tolerance and respect for human rights; €187 million to the humanitarian aid provided by the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO); and €581 million as humanitarian support through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for assistance to the refugees, including food aid.

The role the EU has played in promoting reform in the Palestinian Authority (with the objective of laying the foundations for the viable Palestinian state foreseen in the Road Map), through the conditions attached to its financial assistance, has been recognized internationally by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of donors, which at its December 2004 meeting commended the Palestinian Authority for its continued strong efforts at public financial reform that now place the Palestinian Authority in the front rank of regional performers.

In addition, the EU is also providing extensive support to the electoral process. €14 million has been earmarked and a substantial EU election observation mission (over 260 observers) has been deployed for the presidential elections, to reflect the importance of these elections and the EU’s continuing engagement in the democratization process.




EU deploys observer mission for PA Presidential election
Brussels, 10 December 2004


The European Union Election Observation Mission to the West Bank and Gaza issued the following press release:

The European Union Election Observation Mission for the presidential elections in West Bank and Gaza has begun work. In total, the EU is deploying more than 260 observers. This includes the EU Election Observation Mission with a core team of 13 staff, which arrived in the West Bank and Gaza this week, some 40 long-term observers, arriving around 15 December and more than 130 short-term observers arriving in early January. The total also comprises an observation delegation from the European Parliament made up of 30 Members of Parliament plus 16 assistants, and contributions from the Governments of Switzerland, Norway and Canada. The EU Election Observation Mission’s Chief Observer, Mr. Michel Rocard, Member of the European Parliament, has started a round of meetings with relevant interlocutors in the West Bank and Israel. The presence of the Mission and the reporting of its observers will help to increase transparency and provide an independent and impartial assessment of the election process.

Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said: “Our Election Observation Mission is an important contribution to ensuring that the forthcoming Palestinian Presidential elections are assessed against international standards. The quality of these elections will have a direct bearing on the authority of the winner. The Palestinians need leaders with the legitimacy that only credible democratic elections can bring.”

In line with the principles of the Quartet Road Map, the European Commission has been in the lead in the international community in providing support to the Palestinian electoral process since 2003. The overall objective is to give the Palestinian society a chance to hold meaningful and credible elections to provide democratic legitimacy for the institutions on the road to statehood. Some €14 million has been allocated since 2003 to prepare the elections. Of this, €2.5 million has been designated for the EU Election Observation Mission announced today.

In addition to deployment of an Election Observation Mission, the core elements of EU support are financial assistance to election operations to be carried out by the Palestinian Central Election Commission, including voter registration, support for polling and counting activities, and voter information. In delivering this, the EU has worked closely with other partners in the international community.

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