The Middle East peace process will continue to be one of the European Union’s central concerns during the Slovenian presidency, underlined the current President of the General Affairs and External Relations Council, Slovenian Minister for Foreign Affairs Dimitrij Rupel, after meeting the Palestinian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Riyad Malki.
Mr. Rupel said that the Annapolis Conference and the International Donors' Conference for the Palestinian State, held in Paris in December 2007, at which the European Union and the Member States had guaranteed €1.5 billion in support for the Palestinian State, had initiated a new era of talks to be conducted by the Israeli and Palestinian Governments in cooperation with the United States. The European Union was therefore taking a back step while awaiting developments. “I look forward with great interest to the outcome of the visit to Israel and Palestine by the United States President, George W. Bush,” stressed Mr. Rupel, announcing that the issue of the Middle East would remain on the agenda of the European Union and that he would consult the Member States on any initiatives, which might include a meeting of the Middle East Quartet. However, such matters would certainly be discussed at the meeting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council. Mr. Rupel assured the Palestinian Minister that the EU presidency had an absolute commitment to speeding up the Middle East peace process.
I underscored to both Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas that progress needs to be made on four parallel tracks. First, both sides need to fulfil their commitments under the road map. Second, the Palestinians need to build their economy and their political and security institutions. And to do that, they need the help of Israel, the region and the international community. Third, I reiterate my appreciation for the Arab Peace Initiative, and I call upon the Arab countries to reach out to Israel, a step that is long overdue.
In addition to these three tracks, both sides are getting down to the business of negotiating. I called upon both leaders to make sure their teams negotiate seriously, starting right now. I strongly supported the decision of the two leaders to continue their regular summit meetings, because they are the ones who can, and must, and – I am convinced – will lead.
I share with these two leaders the vision of two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Both of these leaders believe that the outcome is in the interest of their peoples and are determined to arrive at a negotiated solution to achieve it.
The point of departure for permanent status negotiations to realize this vision seems clear: there should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the State of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent.
It is vital that each side understands that satisfying the other's fundamental objectives is key to a successful agreement. Security for Israel and viability for the Palestinian State are in the mutual interests of both parties.
Achieving an agreement will require painful political concessions by both sides. While territory is an issue for both parties to decide, I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to ensure that the Palestinian State is viable and contiguous. I believe we need to look to the establishment of a Palestinian State and new international mechanisms, including compensation, to resolve the refugee issue.
I reaffirm to each leader that implementation of any agreement is subject to implementation of the road map. Neither party should undertake any activity that contravenes road map obligations or prejudices the final status negotiations. On the Israeli side, that includes ending settlement expansion and removing unauthorized outposts. On the Palestinian side, that includes confronting terrorists and dismantling terrorist infrastructure.
I know Jerusalem is a tough issue. Both sides have deeply felt political and religious concerns. I fully understand that finding a solution to this issue will be one of the most difficult challenges on the road to peace, but that is the road we have chosen to walk.
Security is fundamental. No agreement and no Palestinian State will be born of terror. I reaffirm America's steadfast commitment to Israel's security.
The establishment of the State of Palestinian is long overdue. The Palestinian people deserve it. And it will enhance the stability of the region, and it will contribute to the security of the people of Israel. The peace agreement should happen, and can happen, by the end of this year. I know each leader shares that important goal, and I am committed to doing all I can to achieve it.
1. In accordance with the commitment they made at the International Donors’ Conference for the Palestinian State, the Chair and Co-Chairs met tonight in Paris to launch the in-depth follow-up of contributions announced at the Conference, of the Palestinian Programme and of all relevant elements concerning its implementation. This was prepared by a meeting in Ramallah of the enlarged group of the Friends of the Chair of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC).
2. The total amount of aid pledged in Paris has now reached $7.7 billion. The Paris Conference demonstrated the high degree of confidence on the part of the international community in the plan prepared and to be implemented by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
3. A number of donors began disbursing their pledges in the very first days of January. A significant number of donors intend to transfer their aid to the single treasury account of the PA. This is a mark of these donors’ confidence in the PA’s capacity to comply with its commitments. The Chair and Co-Chairs welcome the imminent implementation of the European mechanism for support to Palestinians (PEGASE) and the creation of the World Bank Multi-Donor trust fund. These mechanisms are complementary. The budgetary support pledged for 2008 has still to be confirmed. The Chair and Co-Chairs invite donors to put it in place as soon as possible.
4. While recognizing that there has been some improvement in the Palestinian economy following the Paris Conference, the Co-Chairs noted that further efforts by all parties are required. The situation in Gaza is a source of great economic and humanitarian preoccupation. Efforts by all parties are required for the economic situation to improve: by donors to fulfil rapidly their commitments, by the PA to ensure prompt and full implementation of the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan and by Israel to encourage improved movement of goods and persons, which, as highlighted by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, is a prerequisite to a full economic recovery. We encourage participants in the Paris Conference to maintain the present economic momentum by swiftly providing their contributions and ensuring that recurrent expenditures will receive adequate funding.
5. Welcoming security-related efforts on the part of the PA, the Chair and Co-Chairs invite donors who have not yet decided upon the allocation of their project aid to allocate part of that aid to security projects for financing equipment, infrastructure and training of personnel.
6. The Chair and Co-Chairs welcome the proposed conference for the mobilization of private investors to be held in Bethlehem in the spring. Confident in the capacity of Palestinian and Israeli private sectors to build up a momentum for the benefit of all, the Chair and Co-Chairs call on the parties to create the conditions conducive to the development of projects by private investors.
7. The Chair and Co-Chairs have decided to meet again at the end of March in Brussels. They have noted the intention of the AHLC Chair to convey a meeting of the committee on 2 May in London.
The European Union welcomes the start of negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials on all outstanding issues, including all final status issues, with a view to concluding a peace agreement before the end of 2008, as agreed in Annapolis last November. The Council reaffirms that this is a crucial opportunity for regional and international partners to support effectively a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. In this context, the Council calls for a continued broad and constructive involvement by Arab partners, building on the Arab Peace Initiative. The Council urges the parties to implement their road map obligations in parallel with their negotiations. The goal remains the establishment of an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza that will unite all Palestinians, living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.
The European Union considers that settlement-building anywhere in the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal under international law. This includes Israeli settlements in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Settlement construction is an obstacle to peace. The European Union is therefore deeply concerned by recent settlement activity, particularly the recent tenders issued for new construction in Har Homa. The road map is clear that Israel should freeze all settlement activity, including the natural growth of existing settlements, and dismantle all outposts erected since March 2001.
The Council commends and supports efforts by the Government of Egypt to find a peaceful and orderly solution to the current situation, and expresses European Union readiness to contribute to its implementation in the framework of an agreement involving the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Israel. The European Union is ready to consider resuming its monitoring mission at Rafah under the provisions of the relevant international agreements related to movement and access concluded in November 2005.
The European Union reaffirms its commitment to remain actively involved in order to support the parties’ efforts to keep the negotiation on track, working closely with other members of the Quartet and partners in the region. The European Union remains determined to contribute significantly to this effort, as laid down in its Action Strategy, “State-building for Peace in the Middle East”, which covers the broad range of its assistance activities. The European Union welcomes the agreement reached on the accreditation procedure of the European Union Co-ordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support, which will allow the European Union to support Palestinian civilian police in order to further strengthen security and law and order.
The European Union welcomes the results of the International Donors' Conference for the Palestinian State, held in December 2007, namely over $7.4 billion in pledges, and calls on all donors to deliver on their pledges in support of efforts to build the future Palestinian State in accordance with the Reform and Development Plan presented by PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. In this context, the European Union recalls the utmost importance of the full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access. The European Union is committed to providing substantial financial support for the Palestinian people, and welcomes the work of the Commission to launch a new funding mechanism: the European mechanism for support to Palestinians (PEGASE), which will constitute a key channel for European Union and other international assistance. The European Union continues to support the work of the Quartet Representative, Tony Blair.
Resolution adopted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference
on the Middle East peace process
Dakar, 13 March 2008
The Eleventh Session of the Islamic Summit Conference (Session of the Islamic Ummah in the 21st Century), meeting in Dakar, Republic of Senegal, from 6 to 7 Rabiul Awwal 1429H (13-14 March 2008),
Referring to the Islamic Conference resolutions;
Having examined the grave situation resulting from the continued policies of successive Israeli Governments hostile to peace, and their persistent failure to abide by the resolutions of international legality and signed agreements,
1. Reaffirms its unwavering full solidarity with the Palestinian people for the recovery of their established and inalienable national rights, including their right to return, self-determination, and the establishment of their independent State on their national territory with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
2. Reaffirms the total solidarity of the Member States with the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon to confront the continuous Israeli aggressions and threats against them, and invites all the Member States to express this solidarity in a practical manner and by the use of all means, as well as to stand firm with the Syrian Arab Republic and Lebanon against any Israeli aggressions targeting them.
3. Reiterates its adoption of the Arab Peace Initiative for settling the cause of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict, which was adopted by the 14th Arab Summit held in Beirut, Lebanon, on 28 March 2002; decides to act by all ways and means to promote this initiative, explain its dimensions, and gain international support for its implementation; and welcomes the resolution of the 19th Session of the Arab Summit which was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in March 2007 on affirming and implementing the Arab Peace Initiative.
4. Reaffirms also its commitment to a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and emphasizes that the peace process is an indivisible task based on Israel’s implementation of the relevant resolutions of international legality, particularly Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), and 425 (1978), the principle of land-for-peace, and the Terms of Reference of the Madrid Conference, which guarantee Israel’s withdrawal from all occupied Arab and Palestinian territories, including Al-Quds Al-Sharif and the Syrian Golan, back to the June 1967 lines and from the Lebanese territory still under occupation to the internationally-recognized borders as well as securing the Palestinian people’s inalienable national rights, including the right to return to their homes and properties in line with General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, and to establish their independent State on their national territory, with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
5. Invites the Quartet to resume its diligent action for the achievement of a just and comprehensive peace in the region on the basis of the terms of reference of the peace process, including the relevant United Nations resolutions and the two principles of land-for-peace and the inadmissibility of the appropriation of others’ land by the use of force, as well as on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative and the road map.
6. Reiterates the Islamic stand rejecting the Israeli unilateral measures; and urges all States and international organizations not to recognize them or entertain any guarantees or promises that may entail any detraction from the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights or any reward for the Israeli occupation, which is trying to impose unilateral and segmented solutions through its persistence in expanding settlements and building the separation wall in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Al-Quds Al-Sharif and its surroundings, in violation of the rules of international law and the fundamental terms of reference and foundations underpinning the peace process.
7. Holds Israel fully responsible for the stalemate in the Middle East peace process on all tracks as a result of the Israeli Government’s intransigence, its reneging on the foundations of the peace process, especially Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) and the land-forpeace principle, as well as its failure to honour all the signed agreements within this framework and to comply with the terms of the road map, in addition to wrecking the positive climate generated by the Annapolis Conference.
8. Requests the Secretary-General to follow up the implementation of the present resolution and to report thereon to the 12th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference.
1. In response to the kind invitation of His Excellency Maitre Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal, the Eleventh Session of the Islamic Summit Conference (Session of the Islamic Ummah in the 21st Century) was convened in Dakar, capital of the Republic of Senegal, on 6-7 Rabi Al-Awal 1429 H (13-14 March 2008).
6. In his statement, His Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, emphasized the worsening situation in Gaza resulting from the continuing Israeli aggression against Palestinian people in the occupied territories. He expressed grave concern on the current danger facing Al-Quds as the result of the Judaization of the city and the ongoing excavation under the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He emphasized that there will be no final peace without resolving the issues of Al-Quds and refugees and strongly rejected unilateral solutions and a State with temporary borders.
22. The Conference expressed grave concern about the deteriorating socioeconomic conditions and the intensification of the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, in particular due to Israel’s continuing illegal closure, siege and blockade and other illegal measures against the Palestinian people there. It was alarmed by the rising poverty, unemployment and hunger, as well as by the declining health status among the Palestinian civilian population, including widespread malnutrition and anaemia among children, due to Israel’s deliberate obstruction of access to adequate food, medical supplies and health care and reduction of fuel and electricity supplies. It determined that such collective punishment of the civilian population by Israel is tantamount to a grave breach of international humanitarian law and that the occupying Power should be held accountable for such war crimes. It thus called upon the international community to pressure Israel, the occupying Power, to immediately cease its siege and collective punishment of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip by lifting the siege and opening all of Gaza’s border crossings to allow for the movement of persons and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip, including unfettered access for humanitarian aid and personnel and movement of sick persons requiring medical treatment outside of Gaza (Palestine). The Conference emphasized the significant role played by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Arab Republic of Egypt in order to ensure the provision of such assistance through their intensified diplomatic efforts.
23. The Conference called once again for urgent efforts by the Quartet and the entire international community, including the Security Council, to address the current political and humanitarian crisis. It also called for efforts to support the peace process, the resumed bilateral negotiations between the two sides and the full implementation of the road map towards ending the occupation of the Palestinian territory that was occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, and thus realizing the two-State solution, based on the relevant United Nations resolutions and the terms of reference and principles of the Middle East peace process. It welcomed the revival of the peace process and took note of the recent convening of two important international conferences, held respectively at Annapolis in November 2007 and at Paris in December 2007, and called for building on the momentum of Annapolis Conference and its ensuing understandings, until a final settlement agreement is reached before the end of year 2008, and for the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian State. The Conference further called for the exertion of serious efforts by all concerned parties to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as well as to the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole. In this regard, it also reaffirmed the importance of the decisions of the Arab Summit in Riyadh in March 2007, especially the reinvigoration of the Arab Peace Initiative, adopted in Beirut in March 2002.
24. The Conference expressed concern about the continuing divisions between the Palestinian political factions. It reiterated the demand that the situation that exists on the ground in the Gaza Strip be restored to that which existed prior to the events of June 2007, to allow for the restoration of the legitimate authority’s role in the Gaza Strip and for the maintenance of its territorial integrity and preservation of the unity of the Palestinian people. In this connection, it stressed the need for national dialogue among Palestinians to achieve national reconciliation and restore unity in order to serve the Palestinian people’s higher national interests. It reaffirmed its full support for the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, and reaffirmed its support for all democratically-elected Palestinian institutions.
27. The Conference called on Israel to effect a full withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan up to the 4 June 1967 borders in accordance with Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973); the land-for-peace formula; the Madrid Peace Conference terms of reference; and the Arab Peace Initiative, which was adopted by the Arab League Summit held in Beirut on 28 March 2002, and reaffirmed by the Arab League Summit held in Riyadh in March 2007.
Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov on 20 and 21 March stayed in Israel on a working visit. He had conversations with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak.
The talks focused mainly on the situation in the Middle East. Both sides emphasized the importance of continuing Israeli-Palestinian talks with the aim of achieving ultimately a comprehensive political settlement on an international legal basis.
Mr. Lavrov laid emphasis on the necessity of promptly ending the military confrontation, of which Israeli and Palestinian civilians are becoming victims, and of establishing favourable conditions for advancing the peace process successfully. Moscow does not accept terrorist acts and rocket fire against Israeli cities and recognizes the right of Israel to protect the lives and security of its citizens. At the same time, it was stressed that retaliatory measures and the struggle against terrorism should not lead to suffering among innocent civilians.
The Israeli side expressed interest in the Russian Federation continuing to make an active and useful contribution to efforts for establishing an enduring peace in the region, particularly in the context of the preparation and holding of a Moscow meeting on the Middle East.
In examining practical questions of Russian-Israeli relations, the sides expressed satisfaction with their onward development and stated the broad prospects for continued expansion of the multifaceted cooperation between their countries.
On 21 March, Mr. Lavrov visited Ramallah, where he held talks with Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
The Russian Minister expressed support for the efforts of the PNA leadership, aimed at stabilizing the situation in the Palestinian territories and continuing the negotiation process with Israel. He accentuated the importance of restoring inter-Palestinian consensus in the interests of solving the principal task: that of achieving a Palestinian-Israeli settlement the ultimate aim of which will be the creation of an independent, viable and territorially integral Palestinian State.
Today, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Defense Minister Ehud Barak agreed on concrete steps to implement the road map. This is a programme that will improve the daily lives of Palestinians and help make Israel secure.
Lieutenant General William Fraser and others will continue their involvement in this effort to help the two sides implement their obligations. Secretary Rice was pleased to be able to join in those efforts today.
Prime Minister Fayyad and Defense Minister Barak agreed on points of special, immediate emphasis and work:
• Both sides also agreed that the PA security forces in the West Bank should assume greater responsibility. Prime Minister Fayyad and Defense Minister Barak agreed to begin by bringing new life and hope to Jenin.
• For its part, the PA will deploy security forces to provide law and order, and work to prevent terror.
• For its part, Israel will take steps to ease access and movement to the city and its surrounding environs.
• The United States and others in the international community will fund projects and, in an integrated governance and development effort, help the PA develop institutions for governance and rule of law.
• The two sides will improve security coordination, so that PA security personnel can perform their vital duties and are equipped properly.
• Prime Minister Fayyad and Minister Barak also agreed on steps to promote economic development, especially projects, in the West Bank more generally.
• Both sides are committed to success of the Bethlehem investment conference, and special arrangements will be made so that international visitors may attend.
• Both sides have agreed to create a major new industrial park in Tarqumiya sponsored by Turkey.
• The parties have completed connection of 27 Palestinian villages in the West Bank to the Israeli power grid and, in an unprecedented action, have connected Jericho to the Jordan power grid.
• The two sides approved in concept the development of new housing in the West Bank for Palestinians.
• Master plans for 25 Palestinian villages in Area C have been approved.
• Israel offered to expand significantly opportunities for Palestinian workers and businessmen to travel to Israel from the West Bank.
Ministers and senior officials of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) met at Lancaster House in London today to reaffirm their strong commitment to a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For the first time, ministers outside the AHLC circle participated in the meeting. Their participation demonstrates the renewed commitment of the donor community expressed at the Donors’ Conference in support of the Palestinian Authority (PA), held in December 2007 in Paris. United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Miliband hosted the meeting. As Chair, Norway wishes to thank the participants, in particular the Palestinians and Israelis, for their spirit of cooperation and their positive contributions during the deliberations.
• The AHLC reaffirmed that the international community, the PA and Israel must act together to make significant economic growth in the Palestinian territory possible.
• The AHLC welcomed the support provided by donors to the Palestinians in the form of the $7.7 billion pledged in Paris and the disbursements made since December 2007. The AHLC welcomed the two new financing mechanisms, the PEGASE and the World Bank Trust Fund.
• For 2008, the amounts disbursed or confirmed are adequate to cover financing needs for the first half of the year. However, without additional assistance, a shortfall of NIS 1.4 billion ($0.4 billion) is projected in the second half of 2008. Adequate and timely disbursements from donors, closely coordinated with the PA, are critical to prevent liquidity problems and payment arrears. Donors are urged to reallocate part of their development commitments to budget support.
• The AHLC commended the reform steps undertaken by the PA in difficult circumstances. A strict government employment policy has been followed, and utility subsidies are being reduced. The public financial management system has also been strengthened. These measures represent a significant step toward fiscal sustainability.
• While acknowledging Israel’s security concerns, the AHLC expressed concern that access and movement restrictions have increased over the last seven months and continue to constrain economic development. The AHLC welcomed the recent announcement by the Israeli Government that a number of obstacles in the West Bank would be removed and affirmed that there is a clear need, however, for a more substantial relaxation of restrictions on movement and access in 2008.
• The AHLC emphasized that the removal of significant restrictions was likely to stimulate private sector confidence and economic growth. In this context, the AHLC looked forward to the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem later this month.
• The AHLC emphasized the importance of close cooperation and coordination between Quartet Representative Tony Blair, the international community, Israel and the PA on promoting economic growth and institutional capacity-building.
• The Quartet Representative has also identified a set of concrete deliverables that, if adopted by the parties, could help trigger a much-needed private sector response. Easing of checkpoints and crossings are essential measures to boost private sector revival.
• The AHLC expressed deep concern over the deteriorating situation in Gaza. As aid in itself will not be an efficient remedy, the private sector should be stimulated and crossings opened. The AHLC deplored the escalation in attacks from Gaza on Gaza crossings.
• Development assistance is not sufficient to create a sustainable economy and produce tangible results on the ground. The easing of Israeli restrictions on movement and access is necessary for the revival of the Palestinian economy. Israel’s genuine security concern should be taken into account.
• The PA should continue to implement its reform and development plans with a view to actively continuing to improve governance, strengthen Palestinian institutions and particularly improve the security environment. The international community should continue to actively support the PA, particularly its reform and development efforts. Israel should provide an enabling environment to ensure the success of these efforts.
• The AHLC recognized that budget support is critical to keep the Palestinian public institutions running and agreed that donors should increase their budget support to the PA, with due regard to equitable burden-sharing. The budget support should be aligned with the PA reform and recovery priorities and be provided through direct transfer to the PA Central Treasury Account.
We must stand with the Palestinian people, who have suffered for decades and earned the right to be a homeland of their own – have a homeland of their own. I strongly support a two-State solution – a democratic Palestine based on law and justice that will live with peace and security alongside a democratic Israel. I believe that the Palestinian people will build a thriving democracy, in which entrepreneurs pursue their dreams, and families own their homes in lively communities, and young people grow up with hope in the future.
Last year, at Annapolis, we made a hopeful beginning towards a peace negotiation that will outline what this nation of Palestine will look like – a contiguous State where Palestinians live in prosperity and dignity. A peace agreement is in the Palestinians' interests, it is in Israel's interests, it is in Arab States' interests, and it is in the world's interests. And I firmly believe that with leadership and courage, we can reach that peace agreement this year.
This is a demanding task. It requires action on all sides. Palestinians must fight terror and continue to build the institutions of a free and peaceful society. Israel must make tough sacrifices for peace and ease the restrictions on the Palestinians. Arab States, especially oil-rich nations, must seize this opportunity to invest aggressively in the Palestinian people and to move past their old resentments against Israel. And all nations in the region must stand together in confronting Hamas, which is attempting to undermine efforts at peace with acts of terror and violence.
Foreign Ministers reiterated the G-8's full support for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with a view to reaching an agreement by the end of 2008 on the establishment of a viable Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza and an end to the conflict. We call on all parties to refrain from any action that would undermine the negotiations and to implement their road map obligations, such as freezing all settlement activities and ending all acts of violence, terrorism and incitement. We also emphasized the importance of improving the situation on the ground and call on the parties concerned to take positive steps to that end, including those on facilitating movement and access. We welcome the truce in Gaza that came into effect recently and call for its observance. We remain committed to continuing to provide assistance to the Palestinians, including those in Gaza, and helping to strengthen the Palestinian institutions and call on other donors to do the same. We look forward to a comprehensive peace between Israel and its neighbours, and in that regard welcome the ongoing indirect peace talks between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic under the auspices of Turkey. We support the statement of the Quartet made in Berlin on convening an international meeting in Moscow, which is expected to lend support to the process launched in Annapolis. The Ministers also welcomed the recent political progress in Lebanon and reaffirmed the support for a sovereign, independent and democratic Lebanon. We call on all parties to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions and encourage them to rapidly proceed in the formation of the new Government without resorting to violence.
4. The Chair and the Co-Chairs welcome the efforts of the Palestinian Government to improve the financial and fiscal situation of the Palestinian Authority in a challenging and constrained environment, including external economic factors. They welcomed in particular the efforts being made to control the public sector wage bill. Nevertheless, it is essential that the Palestinian Government maintain a rigorous fiscal policy in relation with the future disposable revenues and contributions: in that respect, the critical issues are clearly the management of civil servants payroll, the reimbursement of arrears to the public and private sectors and the reduction of subsidies of the utilities bill.
5. The success of the Palestine Investment Conference in Bethlehem in May is very encouraging and sent strong positive signals to the Palestinian private sector. The massive attendance of foreign investors and the positive business climate generated, thanks in part to close cooperation with the Government of Israel, should be maintained in the coming months to ensure the implementation of actual business deals and development projects struck in Bethlehem. The Chair and Co-Chairs underlined that the economic impact of the Conference will be muted in the absence of an enabling environment for economic recovery. Restrictions by the Government of Israel on Palestinian movement and access continue to weigh heavily on the economic outlook. Without a significant lifting of such barriers in the West Bank, and a relaxation of the restrictions on humanitarian and commercial flows to the Gaza Strip, there is a much-reduced prospect for private sector recovery, public and private investment programmes will continue to be delayed, and consequently any economic recovery will continue to be inhibited.
6. While there has been some progress on the package of measures (economic and social development, lifting access and movement restrictions, developing currently restricted areas of the West Bank, proper Palestinian security capability and performance) agreed with Israel and launched by Quartet Representative Tony Blair on 13 May to boost the Palestinian economy and aid preparations for statehood, Israel should make the full and rapid implementation of the package it agreed to a high priority.
7. The Chair and Co-Chairs welcome recent political developments and notably the truce in Gaza. A lasting solution to the situation in Gaza can only be achieved through peaceful means. They urged that the calm be respected in full and expressed the hope that it would endure, and lead to a return to normal civilian life and the rule of the PA in Gaza. They called on all parties to sustain the controlled reopening of the crossings in and out of Gaza for both humanitarian reasons and commercial flows, and stand ready to assist in the economic rehabilitation of Gaza.
8. The Chair and Co-Chairs agreed to continue their efforts to ensure that the Paris Conference outcome is successful in order to change the situation on the ground. They agreed to meet again in September and took note of the forthcoming Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting in New York on 22 September.
1. The Ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement reviewed the continuing critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. They considered further approaches and strategies to be undertaken by the Movement to continue strongly supporting the Palestinian people and their leadership and for advancing the revived peace process towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace settlement and the exercise by the Palestinian people of their inalienable right to self-determination in their independent and sovereign State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Ministers reaffirmed their adherence to the principled positions adopted in this regard, including in the Declarations on Palestine adopted by the Committee on Palestine on 25 September 2007 in New York, as well as on 16 September 2006 in Havana during the Fourteenth Summit Conference of Heads of State or Government, and the clear positions concerning Palestine adopted by all other previous summits and ministerial conferences of the Movement.
2. The Ministers expressed their deep regret that 60 years have passed since the 1948 Al-Nakba that befell the Palestinian people, by which they became a stateless and dispossessed people, dispersed and displaced from their homeland of Palestine, and that more than half of the Palestinian people continue to live in exile in refugee camps throughout the region and in the diaspora. In this regard, the Ministers called upon all Members of the Movement to solemnly commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Al-Nakba this year and to reaffirm their solidarity with the Palestinian people on this occasion and redouble their collective efforts for the just and peaceful resolution of the question of Palestine in all its aspects.
15. The Ministers reiterated their hope that the international community and the Quartet will continue to exert serious efforts during the current critical period to advance the peace process and to salvage the road map and promote its implementation towards ending the occupation of the Palestinian territory that began in 1967, including East Jerusalem, and thus realizing the two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the right of all States and peoples in the region to live in peace and security. The Ministers reaffirmed the continued relevance of the Arab Peace Initiative, adopted by the Fourteenth Arab Summit in Beirut in March 2002 and reaffirmed by Nineteenth Arab Summit in Riyadh in March 2007, and welcomed the Twentieth Arab Summit in Damascus in March 2008, which reaffirmed the commitment by all Arab States to the Arab Peace Initiative and stressed that such commitment is subject to adherence by Israel to its obligations under the terms of reference for achieving peace in the region, and called for intensification of efforts in this regard. They called on all concerned parties to remain actively engaged with the Palestinian and Israeli sides to promote substantial negotiations and encourage immediate positive steps on the ground to promote genuine progress in the peace process on all final status issues towards the achievement of its stated aims and goals.
16. In this connection, the Ministers took note of the timely international conferences convened at Annapolis in November 2007 and at Paris in December 2007, aimed at ending the occupation that began in 1967 and actualizing the two-State solution and at providing urgently needed assistance to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority, and called for serious and continuous follow-up efforts. In this regard, the Ministers reiterated their support for convening the follow-up Conference before the end of 2008 to take stock of progress achieved in the peace process. The Ministers further reiterated their support for convening this Conference in Moscow.
17. The Ministers also reiterated their call upon the Security Council to assume its responsibilities and to act on the basis of its own resolutions to compel Israel to respect international law and to bring an end to all of its illegal practices and its occupation. The Ministers expressed appreciation to the members of the Non-Aligned Movement Caucus of the Security Council for their efforts concerning Palestine and called upon them to continue coordination on the issue and to remain actively involved. Moreover, they urged the Security Council to engage the Quartet, considering the Council’s Charter responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. In this context, they reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations towards the question of Palestine until it is resolved in all aspects on the basis of international law, including a just resolution of the plight of the Palestinian refugees in accordance with General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948.
18. The Ministers reaffirmed their conviction that a vital role should continue to be played by the Movement vis-à-vis the question of Palestine and entrusted the Chair, assisted by the Committee on Palestine, to lead the efforts of the Movement with regard to the pursuit of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region. They stressed the importance of active contacts and dialogue by the Movement at the Ministerial level with the members of the Quartet, the members of the Security Council and other relevant parties in the peace process in order to convey the Movement’s principled positions and advance efforts aimed at promoting the peace process and at ensuring respect for international law, the keys to a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
19. The Ministers welcomed the holding of the Asian-African Ministerial Conference on Capacity Building for Palestine, in Jakarta on 14 July 2008, with the main objective of assisting the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as well as in clusters of refugee camps in the surrounding host countries, in the practical field of capacity-building, in order to prepare them for the eventual creation of a Palestinian State. The Ministers highly commended the commitments made in the areas of economic development, including governance, women’s empowerment and public works, which may entail the training of as many as 10,000 Palestinian people. In this regard, the Ministers also welcomed the follow-up mechanism established to ensure the success of the effective implementation of the commitments as agreed by the Conference.
20. The Ministers also underscored the importance of the work of nongovernmental organizations, civil society and peace groups, particularly on the Palestinian and Israeli sides, and encouraged them to continue their positive work.
21. In conclusion, in light of the continuing severe economic, social and humanitarian hardships being endured by the Palestinian people as a result of the unlawful policies and measures being carried out by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, the Ministers reiterated the call upon the non-aligned countries to continue extending urgent assistance to the Palestinian people to ease their financial and humanitarian crisis. Moreover, the Ministers reaffirmed their long-standing, principled political support, reaffirming their strong commitment to continue supporting the Palestinian people and their leadership to bring an end to the Israeli occupation that began in 1967, in accordance with the rules and principles of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, and their commitment to a just, peaceful and permanent solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the right of the Palestinian people to exercise self-determination and sovereignty in their independent State of Palestine, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Ministers and senior officials of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) and other major donor countries met at United Nations Headquarters in New York today to reaffirm their strong commitment to a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the meeting. Norway, as Chair, thanked the participants, in particular the Palestinians and the Israelis, for their spirit of cooperation and their positive contributions during the deliberations.
· The AHLC reaffirmed its political and economic support to Palestinian institution- building and the efforts made by the Palestinian Government led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Despite the difficult conditions on the ground, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has continued to implement its reform and development agenda, particularly in the area of security, and to pursue prudent fiscal policies and reforms. Expenditure increases have been below the inflation rate, implying a retrenchment in real terms.
· The AHLC reaffirmed its view that economic progress in the Palestinian territory is an essential part of bringing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an end. As a result of the Paris Conference, the international community has contributed $1.36 billion in budgetary support this year. All funding instruments, including the PEGASE (the European mechanism for support to Palestinians) and the World Bank Trust Fund, have proved crucial in mobilizing coordinated donor support. Although considerable external financial support has been mobilized, weak economic growth has taken place since the AHLC revived the three-party cooperation last year. While acknowledging Israel’s security concerns, the AHLC expressed concerns that access and movement restrictions continue to constrain Palestinian economic development.
· In this context, the AHLC reiterates its support for the Quartet Representative and his intensive efforts, together with the PA and the Government of Israel, to fully implement the package of measures agreed on 13 May 2008, which are aimed at boosting the Palestinian economy and promoting greater freedom for the Palestinians, while taking Israeli security concerns into account.
· The AHLC regards the recent Israeli measures to dismantle roadblocks in the West Bank, to allow increased transport into Gaza, and the agreement enabling a second Palestinian mobile phone company to begin operations as concrete actions to facilitate Palestinian economic development. These are positive first steps. However, in line with the Quartet Representative’s efforts, agreed with the parties, a more substantial relaxation of restrictions on movement and access, development of land and resources in Area C, and expansion of the types of items permitted into Gaza are crucial to foster a new reality on the ground, while taking Israel’s security concerns into account. Greater movement of people and goods will give the Palestinian economy a major boost and increase the efficiency of development programmes, and thereby reduce the dependence on aid and lay the groundwork for a viable Palestinian State.
· Security, good governance and economic development are interlinked, and the positive experience gained in Nablus and the Jenin region should be expanded to other cites and areas in line with PA priorities. The AHLC welcomed the acceleration of United States and European Union efforts to develop Palestinian security and police forces, respectively.
· The AHLC members expressed their satisfaction with the Bethlehem Investment Conference and congratulated the PA on a successful initiative and Israel for its cooperation. This initiative should be built upon.
· Despite uneven disbursements from donors, the Palestinian Government has been able to pay salaries without interruption and reimburse the bulk of its arrears. There is, however, still a budget gap of $320 million in 2008.
· The AHLC expressed its support for the ongoing bilateral negotiations undertaken in the context of the process launched at Annapolis, and expressed deep concern over the lack of progress in fulfilling the Quartet road map obligations, with many donors expressing concerns regarding settlement expansion. Also, the AHLC encouraged actions to support efforts to build peace, freedom and security for the Palestinians and the Israelis.
In order to support the ongoing negotiations on final status and achieve results on the ground, AHLC members stressed the following:
· The three-party cooperation between the PA, Israel and international donors must be further strengthened. To this end, the AHLC is reviving the Joint Liaison Committee, comprising the PA, Israel and major donors. The revival of three-party cooperation at the local level should help rebuild confidence and trust between the parties, and secure effective progress on the overall aims defined by the AHLC.
· In order for external aid to have significant economic impact and facilitate economic growth, restrictions of movement and access in the Palestinian territory must be substantially relaxed, taking genuine Israeli security concerns into account. There is a need to accelerate this work.
· Palestinian security sector reform as well as institutional and capacity-building must continue.
· International donors approved and gave their support to the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan at the Paris Donors’ Conference in December 2007. The AHLC urges donors that have not yet converted their budget support pledges into disbursements to transfer funds immediately. In addition, the donors are asked to cover the undefined budgetary gap for 2008. The AHLC asks donors to reallocate unutilized funds for project implementation to budgetary support for 2008.
The Chair called for a new meeting in the first part of 2009. Donors were asked to provide the PA with indicative figures on their support in 2009. The AHLC underlined the need for equitable burden-sharing by donors in this effort, and encouraged the donors to consider aligning funding cycles with the PA’s national budget cycle. This will increase predictability and will enable the PA to improve its financial planning. The AHLC encourages donors to use the existing aid delivery mechanisms to coordinate their efforts, such as the World Bank Trust Fund or the PEGASE.