The European Union (EU) welcomes the launch of proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians and emphasizes that the proximity talks should lead as soon as possible to the resumption of direct bilateral negotiations that, within 24 months as specified by the Quartet, resolve all final status issues and lead to the two-State solution with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
The EU reconfirms its support for the United States' mediation efforts. The EU will remain actively involved, including in the framework of the Quartet, along the lines agreed in Moscow on 19 March 2010. It reiterates that a comprehensive peace in the region that must include also the Syrian and Lebanese tracks must be achieved on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles, including land for peace, the road map, the agreements previously reached by the parties and the Arab Peace Initiative.
Recalling its December 2009 Council conclusions on the Middle East, the EU calls on the parties and on all regional and international actors to support this political process, including through confidence-building measures, and to refrain from any provocation or unilateral measure that could jeopardize it.
The situation in the Middle East will remain tense as long as Israel persists in its obstinate policies and in hindering peace efforts, and until a comprehensive and just settlement covering all aspects of the problem is reached. Therefore we call for an intensification of efforts by the international community, including by the Security Council, in line with its Charter responsibilities, aimed at accelerating the process of achieving a just and comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East. In this context, the Council strongly condemns all illegal measures and actions in occupied East Jerusalem aimed at Judaizing this city which has an Arab and Islamic character, including, in particular, the building of settlements that threaten to undermine any negotiation leading to an end to the Israeli occupation of 1967 and the establishment of an independent, contiguous and viable Palestinian State on all Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We commend the efforts made by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee, and Bayt Mal Al-Quds, in order to preserve the identity of the city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif and support the steadfastness of its people. We also condemn Israel’s persisting occupation of the Syrian Golan and Lebanese territories, and we emphasize our support for these two countries in regaining all their territories occupied by Israel in 1967.
We, Chairs of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM CoB), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Group, and the Arab Group in New York, in a follow-up to the presidential statement adopted by the United Nations Security Council on 1 June 2010 (S/PRST/2010/9) and the resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 2 June 2010 (A/HRC/RES/14/1), urgently request the following:
• The immediate, unconditional and complete lifting of the illegal Israeli blockade imposed on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the opening of all Israeli border crossing points to allow for freedom of movement of persons and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip and to allow for permanent unfettered humanitarian access, in accordance with international humanitarian law and relevant United Nations resolutions.
• Conducting, without delay, under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, a full, impartial, credible, transparent and independent international investigation, in accordance with the international standards, of the Israeli military attack against the maritime humanitarian convoy sailing to Gaza, which took place in international waters on 31 May 2010.
We reaffirm our conviction and the conviction of the States members of our groups that averting further escalation of tensions and destabilization of the situation, promoting a just, lasting, comprehensive and peaceful settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole, and ensuring the maintenance of peace and security in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean region will depend on the full implementation of all the relevant United Nations resolutions, including Security Council resolutions, regarding the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East and on the achievement of serious and timely progress on the crucial aforementioned issues.
It would be highly appreciated if the present letter could be circulated as a document of the General Assembly, under agenda items 15 and 16, the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.
The Quartet expresses its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations, which can be completed within one year, and the implementation of an agreement. The Quartet again calls on both sides to observe calm and restraint, and to refrain from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric.
Welcoming the result of the Arab Peace Initiative Committee in Cairo on 29 July, the Quartet notes that success will require sustained regional and international support for the negotiations and the parallel process of Palestinian State-building and the pursuit of a just, lasting and comprehensive regional peace as envisaged in the Madrid terms of reference, Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. The Quartet principals intend to meet with their colleagues from the Arab League in September in New York to review the situation. Accordingly, the Quartet calls on the Israelis and the Palestinians to join in launching direct negotiations on 2 September in Washington, D.C., to resolve all final status issues and fulfill the aspirations of both parties.
I want to firstly commend US President Barack Obama, my US counterpart, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator George Mitchell for their hard work and determination to bring the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table. I want to also credit my Quartet partners and Quartet Envoy Tony Blair and I would like to thank all of the EU member States for their support of this process.
I also want to stress the importance of the positive outcome of the Arab League Foreign Ministers meeting of July 29.
As a member of the Quartet, and on behalf of the EU, I will continue to work with the parties to support the negotiations. We all want to see a two-State solution with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with each other and their neighbours.
The parties must work fast and hard on all the final status issues to meet the Quartet's call for a negotiated settlement within one year.
To give negotiations the best chance of success, an enabling environment on the ground is essential. It is therefore imperative that both parties keep calm and exercise restraint. They should only act on the basis of international law, refraining from all provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric.
Successful negotiations will also need sustained regional, international support and the continuation of the Palestinian State-building process, which the EU fully supports. I call on all concerned to fulfill previous pledges to help the Palestinian Authority.
I also want to reiterate the EU's readiness to contribute substantially to post-conflict arrangements aimed at ensuring the sustainability of peace agreements.
As you know, both have accepted. They will have bilateral meetings with President Obama tomorrow, as will President Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan. The four leaders then will join President Obama for dinner at the White House to help launch these discussions.
Egypt and Jordan have a critical role to play, and their continued leadership and commitment to peace will be essential to success.
After the bilateral meetings, the President will make a public statement, and then just prior to the dinner, the President and the other leaders will make public statements.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Clinton will convene a meeting at the State Department between Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas and their delegations, following which I will provide a readout to the press.
Since the beginning of this administration, we’ve worked with the Israelis, the Palestinians and our international partners to advance the cause of comprehensive peace in the Middle East, including two-State solution, which ensures security and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians.
We’re pleased that negotiations will be relaunched after a hiatus of more than a year and a half. And we will engage with perseverance and patience to try to bring them to a successful conclusion.
The parties agreed that a logical next step would be to begin working on achieving a framework agreement for permanent status. The purpose of a framework agreement will be to establish the fundamental compromises necessary to enable them to flesh out and complete a comprehensive treaty that will end the conflict and establish a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The parties agreed that in their actions and statements they will work to create an atmosphere of trust that will be conducive to reaching a final agreement.
They agreed to meet again on 14 and 15 September in the region and roughly two weeks thereafter – every two weeks thereafter. Of course, continued interactions at other levels between the parties and also yet others involving the United States will take place between those meetings. In fact, a preparatory trilateral meeting to plan for that second meeting in the region has already begun at another location in this building and will continue here and in the region between now and 14 September, as is necessary.
As both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have said, the United States pledges its full support to the parties in these talks. We will be an active and sustained partner throughout. We will put our full weight behind these negotiations and will stand by the parties as they make the difficult decisions necessary to secure a better future for their citizens.
As we saw this week, there are those who will use violence to try to derail these talks. There are going to be difficult days and many obstacles along the way. We recognize that this is not an easy task. But as the President told the leaders, we expect to continue until our job is complete and successful.
A second round of direct talks between the Palestinians and Israelis kicked off on 14 September 2010 at Sharm el-Sheikh. President Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were present.
Mubarak discussed with Abbas as part of the intensive political activities by the Egyptian leader on the sidelines of the Palestinian-Israeli direct negotiations hosted by Egypt.
The meeting covered the latest developments on the Palestinian arena, especially the direct negotiations that were launched in Washington, D.C., on September 2 and ways to render the coming rounds successful.
Mubarak spelled out to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who arrived Tuesday, Egypt's vision on underway efforts to render successful the Palestinian-Israeli direct talks, whose second round will open here later in the day
The talks also reviewed the outcome of the first round which was held in Washington, D.C., about two weeks ago with the participation of Mubarak, US President Barack Obama, Jordanian King Abdullah II, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu.
The talks tackled the US' efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East, especially to coax Israel to extend the moratorium on settlement construction, due to expire on 26 September.
Mubarak renewed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the necessity to halt settlement building in occupied Arab lands and seize the existing opportunity for peace
The meeting took up efforts exerted by all parties concerned to set the stage for rendering successful the Palestinian-Israeli direct negotiations aimed at achieving the two-State solution. Egypt's vision in this regard was discussed.
Recalling the Council conclusions of December 2009 on the Middle East peace process, the European Union stresses that these negotiations on all final status issues should lead to a two-State solution, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security.
In this context, the European Union deems it indispensable that both parties observe calm and restraint and refrain from actions that could affect negatively the progress of the negotiations. It calls on both parties to uphold previous commitments and to strive to create an environment conducive to a successful outcome. The European Union recalls that settlements are illegal under international law and calls for an extension of the moratorium decided by Israel. It continues to call for a complete stop to all violence, in particular rocket fire and terrorist attacks.
The European Union will spare no effort, along with its partners in the Quartet as well as Arab partners, to support the US-led efforts for successful negotiations that lead to a framework agreement within one year, which is in the interest of Israelis and Palestinians, the peoples of the region and the international community. The European Union is the first donor to the Palestinians and a crucial political and economic partner of both parties as well as their neighbours. In this regard, it stresses that the European Union will remain actively engaged and involved, including through the Quartet, to support and ensure the success of the negotiations and invites the High Representative to continue to fully associate the European Union to the ongoing efforts. The European Union stresses the need for the Quartet to continue to play an essential role in the peace process. It also stresses the crucial importance of the continuation of the Palestinian State- building process which the European Union will continue to actively support, including the implementation of the Fayyad Plan.
Recalling the Council conclusions of June 2010 on Gaza, the European Union also stresses that for peace to be sustainable, a durable solution needs to be found for Gaza. It welcomes the recent measures announced by the Israeli Government as an important step forward. It calls for full implementation and complementary measures in order to achieve a fundamental change of policy that allows for the reconstruction and economic recovery of Gaza. The EU has offered its assistance for achieving this objective. The European Union calls for a solution addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns.
The European Union recalls that peace in the Middle East should be comprehensive and reiterates the importance of negotiations on the Israeli-Syria and Israeli-Lebanon tracks.
Noting that mutual trust and confidence are critical to successful negotiations, the Quartet reiterated its call on Israel and the Palestinians to promote an environment conducive to progress, including by refraining from provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric. The Quartet noted that the commendable Israeli settlement moratorium instituted last November has had a positive impact and urged its continuation. The Quartet recalled that unilateral actions by either party, including settlement activity, cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations and will not be recognized by the international community. The Quartet called upon both sides to fulfill their obligations under the road map. The Quartet encouraged the parties to work together to find a way to ensure that negotiations continue in a constructive manner and urged the international community to support their efforts.
The Quartet underscored its commitment to a just, lasting and comprehensive Middle East peace, including Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese agreements. In the spirit of the Arab Peace Initiative, the Quartet called on Arab States to support Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and progress on the other tracks by taking bolder steps to foster positive relations throughout the region and to combat violence and extremism.
Recalling that change on the ground is integral to peace, the Quartet reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian Authority’s August 2009 plan for building the institutions of a Palestinian State within two years. The Quartet commended the significant progress towards that goal as reported by international institutions to the 21 September 2010 meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. The Quartet took particular note of the statement in the Economic Monitoring Report of the World Bank that: “If the Palestinian Authority maintains its current performance in institution-building and delivery of public services, it is well-positioned for the establishment of a State at any point in the near future.”
The Quartet called for Israel to take further steps to facilitate Palestinian State-building and economic growth. The Quartet welcomed measures Israel has already taken to improve day-to-day life for Palestinians, including the easing of restrictions on movement in the West Bank and improved Gaza access, and commended the work of the Quartet Representative in helping to achieve that change. The Quartet further called upon Arab States and the international community to provide immediate and sustained support for the Palestinian Authority.
The Quartet reaffirmed that the current situation in Gaza is not in the interests of Palestinians or Israelis and restated its desire to see progress on the implementation of all aspects of Security Council resolution 1860 (2009). Reconfirming its statement of 21 June 2010, the Quartet welcomed the significant shift in Israel’s Gaza policy since June 2010 and called for further efforts by all concerned to ensure the unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza and to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns. The Quartet also took positive note of approvals of United Nations and other international projects in Gaza and expressed its desire to see further progress in the near future. The Quartet reiterated its support for efforts to restore Palestinian unity based on the commitments of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The Quartet condemned in the strongest possible terms continuing violence against Israeli and Palestinian civilians, in particular the 31 August 2010 attack near Hebron, for which Hamas claimed responsibility while threatening additional attacks. The Quartet urged a complete halt to all violence and reiterated its call on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and to respect international humanitarian and human rights law. The Quartet reiterated its call for the immediate release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
The Quartet committed to remain actively involved on all tracks and to encourage and review progress. The Quartet agreed to meet regularly and to task the envoys and the Quartet Representative to intensify their cooperation, to maintain contacts with the Arab League Committee on the Arab Peace Initiative, and to formulate recommendations for Quartet action. The Quartet reaffirmed its support, in consultation with the parties, for an international conference in Moscow at the appropriate time, concurrent with direct negotiations.
I hear those voices of skepticism. But I ask you to consider the alternative. If an agreement is not reached, Palestinians will never know the pride and dignity that comes with their own State. Israelis will never know the certainty and security that comes with sovereign and stable neighbors who are committed to coexistence. The hard realities of demography will take hold. More blood will be shed. This Holy Land will remain a symbol of our differences, instead of our common humanity.
I refuse to accept that future. And we all have a choice to make. Each of us must choose the path of peace. Of course, that responsibility begins with the parties themselves, who must answer the call of history. Earlier this month at the White House, I was struck by the words of both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “I came here today to find a historic compromise that will enable both people to live in peace, security, and dignity.” And President Abbas said, “We will spare no effort and we will work diligently and tirelessly to ensure these negotiations achieve their cause.”
These words must now be followed by action and I believe that both leaders have the courage to do so. But the road that they have to travel is exceedingly difficult, which is why I call upon Israelis and Palestinians -- and the world -- to rally behind the goal that these leaders now share. We know that there will be tests along the way and that one test is fast approaching. Israel’s settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground and improved the atmosphere for talks.
And our position on this issue is well known. We believe that the moratorium should be extended. We also believe that talks should press on until completed. Now is the time for the parties to help each other overcome this obstacle. Now is the time to build the trust -- and provide the time -- for substantial progress to be made. Now is the time for this opportunity to be seized, so that it does not slip away.
Now, peace must be made by Israelis and Palestinians, but each of us has a responsibility to do our part as well. Those of us who are friends of Israel must understand that true security for the Jewish State requires an independent Palestine -- one that allows the Palestinian people to live with dignity and opportunity. And those of us who are friends of the Palestinians must understand that the rights of the Palestinian people will be won only through peaceful means -- including genuine reconciliation with a secure Israel.
I know many in this hall count themselves as friends of the Palestinians. But these pledges of friendship must now be supported by deeds. Those who have signed on to the Arab Peace Initiative should seize this opportunity to make it real by taking tangible steps towards the normalization that it promises Israel.
And those who speak on behalf of Palestinian self-government should help the Palestinian Authority politically and financially, and in doing so help the Palestinians build the institutions of their State.
Those who long to see an independent Palestine must also stop trying to tear down Israel. After thousands of years, Jews and Arabs are not strangers in a strange land. After 60 years in the community of nations, Israel’s existence must not be a subject for debate.
Israel is a sovereign State, and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. It should be clear to all that efforts to chip away at Israel’s legitimacy will only be met by the unshakeable opposition of the United States. And efforts to threaten or kill Israelis will do nothing to help the Palestinian people. The slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance -- it’s injustice. And make no mistake: The courage of a man like President Abbas, who stands up for his people in front of the world under very difficult circumstances, is far greater than those who fire rockets at innocent women and children.
The conflict between Israelis and Arabs is as old as this institution. And we can come back here next year, as we have for the last 60 years, and make long speeches about it. We can read familiar lists of grievances. We can table the same resolutions. We can further empower the forces of rejectionism and hate. And we can waste more time by carrying forward an argument that will not help a single Israeli or Palestinian child achieve a better life. We can do that.
Or, we can say that this time will be different -- that this time we will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics stand in the way. This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket fire.
This time, we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that lie at the heart of three great religions that see Jerusalem’s soil as sacred. This time we should reach for what’s best within ourselves. If we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations -- an independent, sovereign State of Palestine, living in peace with Israel. (Applause)
I regret the Israeli decision not to extend the moratorium on settlements. We are examining the consequences of this decision and consulting with the parties and our Quartet and Arab partners.
The Quartet welcomed Israel’s moratorium and the positive atmosphere it created for the negotiations. Both Palestinians and Israelis have an obligation to act in accordance with previous agreements and obligations, including the road map. The position of the EU is very clear: settlements are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two-State solution impossible.
I urge the parties to act responsibly. There is no alternative to a negotiated solution. Therefore, it is in everybody's interest to find a satisfactory way for the negotiations to continue and gather momentum. The EU stands firm on our full support to the goal of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, as part of a just and comprehensive peace. We will do whatever is possible to help both parties choose the path of peace and reach a successful outcome."
Our people, our homeland, Palestine, and our region, the Middle East, are facing extremely serious problems that continue to push them towards violence and conflict, wasting chance after chance to seriously address the issues faced by the peoples of the region and to arrive at comprehensive and bold solutions. This is the result of the expansionist and hegemonic mentality that still prevails in the ideology and policies of Israel, the occupying Power, whose standard policy is non-compliance with internationally legitimate resolutions, including those of the General Assembly and the Security Council. Such disrespect has rendered those resolutions ineffective, undermined the credibility of the United Nations and bolstered the prevailing view that double standards are in effect, particularly regarding the Palestinian question, and that Israel is a State above the law, flouting all these resolutions and engaging in oppression, arrests, detentions, killings, destruction, demolition of homes, blockades, settlement expansion and the establishment of the annexation apartheid wall, violating and undermining the existence and the rights of our people in their own homeland.
The ancient city of East Jerusalem, capital of the independent State of Palestine and designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site requiring protection, is being subjected by Israel, the occupying Power, to actions that alter and distort realities on the ground. Such actions destroy landmarks, cemeteries and the religious, spiritual and historical identity of the holy city in every aspect and as quickly as possible, aiming to erase its historical character and pre-empt final status negotiations. This is in addition to the continuous excavations under the Al-Aqsa mosque, the demolition of homes, the deportations and revocation of the residency rights of its population and the imposition of a siege on the city in an attempt to isolate it from its natural Palestinian Arab surroundings and to control it geographically and demographically.
This situation is a provocation to our people. It antagonizes them and gives rise to anger, especially in the Arab and Islamic world. It creates instability in our region and constitutes a serious obstacle to the achievement of peace and security. All of these illegal Israeli measures and practices must cease.
This is also the case with regard to the situation in the Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to an unjust, illegal and unprecedented land, air and sea blockade in violation of international law and United Nations resolutions. It is also the target of harsh Israeli military aggression that has severely damaged its infrastructure. This illegal blockade and aggression have resulted in the destruction of the infrastructure and productive capacity of Gaza and destroyed 25 per cent of its homes and nearly 75 per cent of its jobs, leading to widespread unemployment and dependence on international aid. The Israeli blockade is preventing our people in Gaza from rebuilding their homes, even though the international donor community has pledged some $5 billion to finance reconstruction. The blockade against the Gaza Strip must be lifted immediately and completely, and the tragic suffering being inflicted on our people there must be ended as soon as possible.
We welcome the efforts of the international independent fact-finding mission established by the Human Rights Council concerning the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla, which was carrying humanitarian assistance for our people in the Gaza Strip. We welcome the conclusions reached by the mission, and we also look forward to the submission by the Panel of Inquiry established by the Secretary-General of its findings to the Security Council.
To all of this I must add the fact that thousands of Palestinian prisoners and detainees remain in Israeli jails and detention centres. They are all fighting for freedom. They must be released and an end must be put to their suffering. This is essential for creating a positive environment for the attainment of peace. We cannot reach a peace agreement that does not liberate all of them from their chains and their imprisonment.
In spite of all of this and despite the historic injustice that has been inflicted upon our people, their desire to achieve a just peace that guarantees the realization of their national rights in freedom and independence has not and will not diminish. Our wounded hands are still able to carry the olive branch picked from the splinters of the trees that the occupation forces uproot every day. Our people aspire to live in security, peace and stability on their Palestinian national soil, to build the lives and future of our generations.
We are willing and ready to reach a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, based on rights and justice and on the resolutions of international legitimacy. Such a settlement must lead to the withdrawal of Israel, the occupying Power, from all the Arab and Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, so that the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as their capital, can enjoy independence and sovereignty and so that peace can prevail throughout the Middle East.
Because of our genuine desire to attain a comprehensive peace in the region, we have decided to enter into final status negotiations. We will exert every effort to reach an agreement for Palestinian-Israeli peace within one year, in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy, the Arab Peace Initiative, the road map and the vision of the two-State solution. On behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization, we have reaffirmed our commitment to the option of just peace and our determination, seriousness and sincere intention to make these negotiations succeed, in spite of all the difficulties and obstacles before us.
The international community should draw lessons from the reasons for the faltering of the political process and the inability to achieve its goals in the past. Restoring the credibility of the peace process mainly requires compelling the Government of Israel to comply with its obligations and commitments. In particular, the Government of Israel must cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, especially in and around East Jerusalem; dismantle the apartheid annexation wall; and put an end to the policy of blockade and closures that restrict the lives and movement of our people and deprive them of their basic human rights.
Our demands for the freezing of settlement activities, the lifting of the blockade and an end to all other illegal Israeli practices do not constitute preconditions that are alien to the political process. Rather, they are consistent with the implementation of previous obligations and commitments which have been repeatedly reaffirmed in all the resolutions adopted since the start of the political process.
Israel’s implementation of these obligations and commitments will lead to the creation of the necessary environment for the success of the negotiations and will give credibility to its pledge to implement the final agreement. Israel must choose between peace and the continuation of settlements.
From this rostrum, I reaffirm that we will continue, as we have always done, to make every possible effort so that these negotiations will achieve the desired objective of realizing peace by addressing all final status issues, namely Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, borders, water, security and the release of all prisoners and detainees. This must be done in a manner that will achieve freedom, independence and justice for the Palestinian people in their homeland, rectify the historical injustice inflicted upon them, achieve security and safety for all their neighbours, lead to a just peace throughout the Middle East, including on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks, and thus usher in a new era of stability, progress, prosperity, coexistence and good-neighbourliness.
The political process will be put back on the right track only if the international community assumes the main responsibility for ending the Israeli occupation, the longest occupation in modern history; ensures our people’s right to self-determination in their independent sovereign State based on the borders of 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital; and finds a just and agreed solution to the plight of the Palestinian refugees. This must all be carried out through the implementation of the principles of the Charter, the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, and the provisions of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, on the ground in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. All of these measures constitute the legitimate political terms of reference for any successful negotiation leading to a final peace settlement.
Our people, despite the profound and continued suffering they have endured, hold steadfast to their rights, their land and their national soil. At the same time, they are determined to restore national unity and the bonds between the two parts of our homeland. We are making every effort to restore unity through dialogue and the good, honourable efforts of our brothers and friends, especially the Arab Republic of Egypt. On our part, we will spare no effort to end the division resulting from the coup against Palestinian legitimacy and to establish democracy as an essential foundation of our body politic.
We will also assume our responsibility for building national institutions for our independent State and national economy, and for ensuring the security and safety of our citizens under a national authority based on the rule of law, accountability, transparency and justice. We will also continue to fulfil our obligations under the road map and the agreements reached between the two sides.
This would include adapting current policy and practice regarding Israeli settlements goods to comply with EU declarations and legal obligations; and seeking reimbursement for additional costs to EU-funded humanitarian relief incurred as a result of illegal practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Other practical measures to deal with the particularly problematic issue of settlement growth might include issuing a code of conduct to discourage European investment in and cooperation with settlement-based companies. In East Jerusalem, the EU and Member States could tighten policies and practice to avoid de facto recognition of the Israeli annexation.
At least twenty further suggestions for improving policy are presented in the following chapters. These include recommendations for the EU to:
During the fourth quarter of 2010, Israel continued to violate its obligations under Phase 1 of the road map. Following the end of Israel’s 10-month so-called ‘moratorium’ on 26 September 2010, there was an intensification of settlement activity, particularly construction starts, issuance of building permits and planning in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In addition to being illegal under international law, such Israeli violations continue to undermine the very possibility of the two-State solution and international efforts led by the United States to create an environment conducive to the resumption of a credible and viable peace process.
I. SETTLEMENT ACTIVITY
• Wall: Wall construction has continued in 19 areas in the West Bank, including in the Jerusalem (Eizariya, Qalandiya, Shuafat refugee camp), Bethlehem (Beit Jala, Wallajah), Ramallah (Aboud, Bil’in), Qalqilya (Jayyous) and Hebron (Tarqumiya) districts.
• Housing starts: According to the most recently available official Israeli data, there were 50 settlement housing starts during the first nine months of 2010 in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem1). 2
• Housing completions: Meanwhile, settlement housing completions continued apace throughout the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem), with 1,175 units in the first nine months of 2010. 3
• Active construction: As of 30 September 2010, some 1,833 housing units were under active construction in settlements throughout the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem). 4
• Settlement construction continued throughout the West Bank, including in Har Gilo (Wallajeh/Beit Jala), Ma’ale David/Zetim (Ras Al Amoud neighborhood, East Jerusalem), City of David (Silwan neighborhood, East Jerusalem), Ma’ale Adumim, Gilo (Beit Jala), Har Homa (Beit Sahour), Giv’at Hamatos (Beit Safafa), Pisgat Ze’ev (Beit Hanina), Giv’at Ze’ev (Betunia) and Betar ‘Illit (Wadi’ Fukin).
• On 20 October, Associated Press reported that construction on 544 housing units had begun in West Bank settlements (excluding those in East Jerusalem) since the end of the so-called ‘moratorium’.
• On 13 November, Peace Now reported that, in the first six weeks after the end of the so-called Israeli ‘moratorium’ on September 26, work had started on 1,629 settlement housing units in at least 63 settlements, 46 of them east of the Wall and 17 on the western side of it. The amount of construction in the six-week period after the end of the ‘moratorium’ was comparable to what would have been started during the 10 months of the ‘moratorium’ based on the 2009 rate of construction.
• On 23 and 24 November, settler organizations took control of two houses in Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. In the first case, the Qara’in family, 14 persons, were evicted from their home, which is located next to the UN compound in Jabal Mukabber. The building was allegedly purchased by a foreign company registered in the Cocos Islands and represented in Israel by David Be’eri, one of the heads of the Elad settlers’ organization, even though some of the owners of the property contend that the transaction was made without their knowledge and approval. In the second case, settlers took control of the second floor of a building in At-Tur that had been unoccupied in recent years. The first and third floors are occupied by Palestinian families. 5
• In December, construction began on 18 of 24 housing units in Beit Orot yeshiva settlement unit on the edge of the Palestinian village of At-Tur. The plan (#3092) is funded by American-Jewish millionaire Irving Moskovich, who has invested heavily in Israeli settlements. 6
B. Planning and Authorizations
2. Building Permits
• The Israeli government issued permits for privately-initiated construction of 402 housing units in West Bank settlements (not counting East Jerusalem7) in the first ten months of 2010. 8
3. Other Plans and Approvals
• During the reporting period, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee advanced plans for more than 2,138 housing units in settlements in and around East Jerusalem. 9
• On 31 October, the so-called Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee published an announcement of the final approval of a plan (#12472) to build a ramp at the Mughrabi Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. The plan initially included the destruction of the existing ramp, archaeological diggings, and the expansion of the prayer area of the Wailing Wall. However, in September 2010, an Israeli court hearing an appeal against the plan decided that the plan as a whole is illegal and that it should be done as part of a more comprehensive plan of the area in coordination with all relevant parties. Nevertheless, the court did allow the plan to include the construction of a new bridge on pillars, with minimum amount of diggings and change of the ground surface. This limited plan is likely to be implemented in the upcoming months. 10
• In early November, Ha’aretz reported that 800 units are being promoted in Ariel settlement. According to Peace Now, the units are part of a plan (#130/3/1), approved in the 1990s, for a new neighbourhood west and outside of the built-up area of Ariel. If completed, it will block Salfit city from the west, while Ariel already blocks it from the north. About one month ago, an Israeli court supported an Israeli investor’s claim of ownership to the land, paving the way for the land’s development by the investor.
• In late November, the Israeli cabinet approved a US$23 million five-year plan to develop the area around the Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. The plan is to improve access to the Wall and the surrounding plaza as well as nearby archaeological sites. It is a continuation of an earlier five-year plan approved in 2004. 11
• In mid-November, Ha’aretz reported that settlers have converted at least 25 natural water springs in the West Bank, including near Eli, Talmon, Berakha and Halamish settlements, into “tourism” sites off-limits to Palestinians.
• Of the approximately 110 outposts12 in the West Bank, 58 of which were established since March 2001, none13 were dismantled during the reporting period.
• In fact, a new outpost appeared to the east of Nokdim and Tekoa settlements in October. The new outpost consists of several caravans and semi-permanent structures, and sits on land belonging to people from Jib Atheib, Zaatara, and Dawahra villages.
II. ATTACKS ON PALESTINIANS AND THEIR PROPERTY
A. Palestinian Deaths and Injuries
• At least 24 Palestinians were killed and another 215 injured by Israel during the last quarter of 2010. 14
B. Land Confiscations
• On 6 October, the Israeli authorities issued Military Order # T/25/10 for the confiscation of 6 dunums of land in Husan village to set up a checkpoint.
• In early November, court documents revealed that successive Israeli governments have helped entrench the Jewish presence in Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem by selling or leasing property to Elad and Ateret Cohanim, two extremist settler groups, at a fraction of the going market rates. The court documents refer to 11 such deals, though there may be dozens more. 15
• On November 3, the Israeli authorities issued a military order for the confiscation of 50 dunums of land belonging to Beit Iksa villagers for the purpose of constructing a rail running through the Occupied Palestinian Territory linking Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
• From October 1 to November 22, at least 32 Palestinian homes and other structures were demolished by Israeli authorities in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly in East Jerusalem, causing the displacement of some 39 people, including 24 children. 16
III. INTERNAL CLOSURES
• According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of December, Israel had established 512 checkpoints, roadblocks and other physical barriers to Palestinian movement throughout the West Bank, a 36 per cent increase since August 2005.
IV. JERUSALEM INSTITUTIONS
• There was no change to the status of Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem closed by Israel on 8 August 2001, including Orient House, the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and eight other institutions. Israeli authorities renewed the closure of all 10 institutions on 25 July.
V. OTHER OBLIGATIONS
• Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to speak about a truncated Palestinian proto-State that would not include East Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and other parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and that would have no capacity to provide security to its citizens, exercise effective jurisdiction or defend its territory and resources. This rhetoric from the current Israeli government has continued ever since Prime Minister Netanyahu fell far short of articulating a clear and unequivocal commitment to the establishment of an “independent, viable and sovereign” Palestinian State in his 14 June 2009 foreign policy speech.
1 Palestinians define “East Jerusalem” as the 6 km² municipal area as it existed on 4 June 1967. Israel defines “East Jerusalem” as the 70 km² of West Bank territory it illegally annexed in 1967 as part of its unilaterally declared municipality of Jerusalem. In this report, “East Jerusalem” refers to the Israeli definition only because the Israeli sources cited in the report compile the data using the Israeli definition.
2 Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) and Ministry of Construction and Housing (MoCH).
3 ICBS and MoCH.
6 Associated Press.
7 Data unavailable for these settlements.
9 Ir Amim; Ha’aretz; Jerusalem Post; and Ynet.
11The Guardian; and Jewish Telegraph Agency.
12This number does not include the handful of outposts removed by the Israeli army immediately or shortly after being established, or outposts that are very temporary in nature (e.g., only inhabited during the day or periodically throughout the year).
13This number does not include the handful of outposts removed by the Israeli army immediately or shortly after being established, or outposts that were only partially dismantled.
14Palestinian Monitoring Group.
16Displacement Working Group.