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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 December 2010


Division for Palestinian Rights


DEVELOPMENTS RELATED TO THE MIDDLE EAST

PEACE PROCESS

Issue 25 • January-December 2010


Statement by United States Vice-President Joe Biden
Jerusalem, 3 March 2010
·
Remarks by United States Vice-President Joe Biden and
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
Ramallah, 10 March 2010
·
Declaration by European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton
on the launch of proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians
Brussels, 10 May 2010
·
The Dushanbe Declaration adopted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference
Dushanbe, 18-20 May 2010
·
Letter by the Permanent Representatives of Egypt, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and
Syrian Arab Republic on the situation in the Middle East
New York, 22 June 2010
·
Declaration by the Group of Eight at the conclusion of the Muskoka summit
Muskoka, 26 June 2010
·
Statement by the Quartet on the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians
New York, 20 August 2010
·
Statement by European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton
on the resumption of direct talks
Brussels, 20 August 2010
·
Press briefing by United States Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell
Washington, D.C., 31 August 2010
·
Remarks by United States President Barack Obama after bilateral meetings
with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Washington, D.C., 1 September 2010
·
Briefing by United States Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell
on Middle East peace talks
Washington, D.C., 2 September 2010
·
Press release by Egypt’s State Information Service on the second round of direct talks
between Israelis and Palestinians
Sharm el-Sheikh, 14 September 2010
·
Declaration on the Middle East peace process adopted by the European Council
Brussels, 16 September 2010
·
Statement by the Quartet
New York, 21 September 2010
·
Statement by United States President Barack Obama before the General Assembly
New York, 23 September 2010
·
Statement by European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton
on the Middle East peace talks
Brussels, 23 September 2010
·
Statement by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas before the General Assembly
New York, 25 September 2010
·
Report of The Elders’ visit to the Middle East
New York, 22 October 2010
·
European Union organizes seminar on “Women’s Participation in Peace-building,
Justice and Security in the OPT”
Ramallah, 9 November 2010
·
Statement by the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
on new Israeli settlement decisions
Cairo, 10 November 2010
·
Statement by European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek on the Quartet
and the role of European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton
Brussels, 28 November 2010
·
Statement by European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton
on the Middle East peace process
Brussels, 8 December 2010
·
European Union Council conclusions on the Middle East peace process
Brussels, 13 December 2010
·
Letter by the Permanent Representative of Israel to the
United Nations, Meron Reuben, on the situation in the Middle East
New York, 21 December 2010
·
European Union Institute for Security Studies publishes paper
on the European involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict
Brussels, December 2010
·
Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization issues report
on Israeli violations of the road map between 1 October and 31 December 2010
Ramallah, 31 December 2010

<

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Statement by United States Vice-President Joe Biden
Jerusalem, 3 March 2010
On 3 March 2010, the Office of the United States Vice-President, Joe Biden, issued the following statement:

I condemn the decision by the Government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem. The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel. We must build an atmosphere to support negotiations, not complicate them. This announcement underscores the need to get negotiations under way that can resolve all the outstanding issues of the conflict. The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians and for Jews, Muslims and Christians. We believe that, through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem and safeguards its status for people around the world. Unilateral action taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations on permanent status issues. As George Mitchell said in announcing the proximity talks, "We encourage the parties and all concerned to refrain from any statements or actions which may inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of these talks.



Remarks by United States Vice-President Joe Biden and
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
Ramallah, 10 March 2010

After a bilateral meeting on 10 March 2010, United States Vice-President Joe Biden and the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, briefed the press on their interaction and vision of a Middle East peace process. The following is the text of the press briefing:

PRESIDENT ABBAS:

/…

The establishment of the Palestinian State and the 1967 borders -- the decisions that the Israeli Government has announced over the past two days, and the establishment and the construction of thousands of new units in the Palestinian territories constitute an undermining of the confidence and all the efforts that were exerted over the past months to launch the indirect negotiations. The decision to approve these negotiations was taken with great difficulties within the Arab Committee and the leadership entities of the Palestinian people. And in order to reiterate our intention to support the American efforts to launch the peace process, to revive the peace process, the Israeli resettlement policies and particularly, in Jerusalem, threaten these negotiations and we ask that these decisions are revoked.

I reiterate, Mr. Vice-President, our commitment to peace as a strategic option, just and comprehensive, a permanent peace on all tracks, including the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks that would lead to ending the Israeli occupation that started in 1967, based on the road map plan, including the Arab Peace Initiative. I would like to address the Israelis’ settling. The time has come to make peace, peace under a two-State solution -- based on the two-State solution, the State of Israel that lives in peace and security alongside the State of Palestine on the borders of the 4th of June 1967 with its capital East Jerusalem. And here it is important to speak about the siege that is imposed on Gaza Strip that should be lifted in order to provide for the basic needs of our people in Gaza Strip in addition to the construction materials that are necessary, because there are 25,000 houses that are in debris and there are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live without shelter and need houses. And, therefore, we ask that the Gaza Strip is provided with construction materials.

Again, I would like to call out to the Israeli Government not to waste this opportunity to make peace. I call upon this Government to stop its settlement policies and to stop imposing fights on the ground and to give the efforts of President Obama’s administration and Representative Mitchell’s efforts the opportunity to succeed. Thank you, Mr. Vice-President.

VICE-PRESIDENT BIDEN

/…

Our administration is fully committed to the Palestinian people and to achieving a Palestinian State that is independent, viable and contiguous. Everyone should know -- everyone should know by now that there is no viable alternative to a two-State solution, which must be an integral part of any comprehensive peace plan. The United States considers the goal to be not only in the interest of the Palestinians and the Israelis, but in the United States’ interest as well. We also believe that the divide between the Israelis and Palestinians can only be resolved by negotiations. The indirect talks being launched should lead to direct negotiations, which will necessarily reach -- which would be necessary to reach an agreement on the permanent status -- status issues which you referenced, Mr. President, such as borders, security, refugees, and Jerusalem. And the United States pledges to play an active as well as a sustained role in these talks. It’s incumbent on both parties to build an atmosphere of support for negotiations and not to complicate them.

Yesterday -- yesterday, the decision by the Israeli Government to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem undermined that very trust, the trust that we need right now in order to begin as well as produce -- have profitable negotiations. That is why I immediately condemned the action. As we move forward, the United States will hold both sides accountable for any statements or actions that inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of talks, as this decision did. The United States strongly supports the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to build as well as strengthen its institutions and develop the economy of a state, including Prime Minister Fayyad’s two-year institution-building plan.

We must find a way to improve the lives of Gazans as well. The Palestinian Authority offers the possibility of a peaceful, independent and more prosperous future rather than the false promises of extremists. A historic peace is going to require the Palestinians as well as the Israelis, as well as their leaders, to be historically bold.

And I promise you, Mr. President, the United States will always stand with those who take the risk that peace requires. Again, Mr. President, I thank you very much for the courage you’ve shown in moving forward. I thank you for the hospitality you’ve extended to me and my delegation. And I look forward to seeing you many more times.


Declaration by European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton
on the launch of proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians
Brussels, 10 May 2010

On 10 May 2010, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton issued a declaration on behalf of the European Union on the launch of proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The text of the declaration is reproduced below:

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 Dushanbe Declaration adopted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference
18-20 May 2010, Dushanbe

From 18 to 20 May 2010, the thirty-seventh session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference met in Dushanbe, Republic of Tajikistan, and adopted the Dushanbe Declaration: ‘A shared vision of a more secure and prosperous Islamic world’. Excerpts of the declaration are reproduced below:

We, the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Heads of Delegation of the Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), participating in the thirty-seventh session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, under the motto “A shared vision of a more secure and prosperous Islamic world”, meeting in Dushanbe, which has been chosen as the capital of Islamic culture for the year 2010, at a time when the Muslim world is facing serious political, socio-economic, cultural and scientific challenges, declare the following:

/...

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.




Letter by the Permanent Representatives of Egypt, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and
Syrian Arab Republic on the situation in the Middle East
New York, 22 June 2010

On 22 June 2010, the Permanent Representatives of Egypt, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations addressed a letter to the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council on the Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza. The text of the letter is reproduced below:

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.




Declaration by the Group of Eight at the conclusion of the Muskoka Summit
Muskoka, 26 June 2010

On 26 June 2010, the leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) issued a statement at the conclusion of their Summit at Muskoka, Canada, excerpts of which are reproduced below:
/…

International peace and security

39. We welcome the start of the proximity talks between the Palestinians and Israel, and urge them both to create conditions conducive for direct talks, with the aim of the establishment of an independent, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with each other and their neighbours. We deeply regret the loss of life and the injuries suffered in the events off the coast of Gaza on May 31. We welcome the decision of the Israeli Government to set up an independent public commission to investigate these events, which includes international participation, in the expectation that it will bring to light all the facts surrounding this tragic incident in line with the Statement of the President of the UN Security Council of June 1. We urge all parties to work together to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1860 and to ensure the flow of humanitarian and commercial goods and persons, to and from Gaza. The current arrangements are not sustainable and must be changed. We welcome the Israeli Cabinet’s announcement of a new policy towards Gaza as a positive development. We urge full and effective implementation of this policy in order to address the needs of Gaza’s population for humanitarian and commercial goods, civilian reconstruction and infrastructure, and legitimate economic activity as well as the legitimate security concerns of Israel that must continue to be safeguarded. We will continue to support the strengthening of Palestinian Authority institutions and the development of a viable Palestinian economy, and stand ready to provide further support for the economic, security and political development of the West Bank and Gaza in the context of a peace agreement once it is reached. We also call for progress in Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese relations, reiterating our firm commitment to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace solution in the Middle East. We call for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit.



Statement by the Quartet on the resumption of
direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians
New York, 20 August 2010

On 20 August 2010, a statement was issued by the Quartet expressing support for direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The text of the statement is reproduced below:

The representatives of the Quartet reaffirm their strong support for direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians to resolve all final status issues. The Quartet reaffirms its full commitment to its previous statements, including in Trieste on 26 June 2009, in New York on 24 September 2009, and its statement in Moscow on 19 March 2010, which provides that direct, bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues should “lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours”.

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.


Statement European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton
on the resumption of direct talks
Brussels, 20 August 2010

On 20 August 2010, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Catherine Ashton, made the following statement on the resumption of negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians:

I welcome the decision by Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct negotiations. This decision by the parties to engage in substantive talks represents a major step on the road towards a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region, something I am hopeful we can now achieve.

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.


Press briefing by United States Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell
Washington, D.C., 31 August, 2010

On 31 August 2010, the United States Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, Senator George Mitchell, gave a briefing on developments in the Middle East and the resumption of direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. The text of the press briefing is reproduced below:

Last week, Secretary of State Clinton invited President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu to Washington on 2 September to resume direct negotiations to resolve all final status issues. We believe these negotiations can be completed within one year.

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.


Remarks by United States President Barack Obama after bilateral meetings
with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Washington, D.C., 1 September 2010

On 1 September 2010, US President Barack Obama delivered some remarks on the Middle East Process after bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. The text of the remarks is reproduced below:

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody.


Upon taking office, I declared that America is a friend of each nation and every person who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that the United States was ready to lead in pursuit of that future. At the beginning of my administration, I stated that it was our policy to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors. And to support my outstanding Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s leadership, I appointed a special envoy and one of our nation’s finest statesmen, former Senator George Mitchell, to guide our efforts.


As I’ve said many times, our goal is a two-State solution that ends the conflict and ensures the rights and security of both Israelis and Palestinians. And despite the inevitable challenges, we have never wavered in pursuit of this goal. I’ve met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on numerous occasions. Between them, Secretary Clinton and Senator Mitchell have made countless trips to the region.


Over the past year, both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority have taken important steps to build confidence. And with Senator Mitchell’s support, Israelis and Palestinians have engaged in several rounds of proximity talks — even in the face of difficult circumstances. But we’ve always made it clear that the only path to lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians is direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.


Tomorrow, after nearly two years, the parties will relaunch those direct talks.


Today, I had a series of very productive meetings with key partners in this effort. I urged Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas to recognize this as a moment of opportunity that must be seized. I thanked President Mubarak of Egypt and His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan, for their valuable leadership and for the support that will be necessary going forward. And I look forward to hosting these four leaders at a private working dinner at the White House tonight.


I also want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to many friends and allies, especially our Quartet partners. And former Prime Minister Tony Blair will be joining us as representing the Quartet at the dinner this evening.


The purpose of these talks is clear. These will be direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. These negotiations are intended to resolve all final status issues. The goal is a settlement, negotiated between the parties, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living side by side in peace and security with a Jewish State of Israel and its other neighbors. That’s the vision we are pursuing.


Now, I know these talks have been greeted in some quarters with skepticism. We are under no illusions. Passions run deep. Each side has legitimate and enduring interests. Years of mistrust will not disappear overnight. Building confidence will require painstaking diplomacy and trust by the parties. After all, there’s a reason that the two-State solution has eluded previous generations — this is extraordinarily complex and extraordinarily difficult.


But we know that the status quo is unsustainable — for Israelis, for Palestinians, for the region and for the world. It is in the national interests of all involved, including the United States that this conflict be brought to a peaceful conclusion.


So even as we are clear-eyed about the challenges ahead, so, too, do we see the foundation for progress. The Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority are already cooperating on a daily basis to increase security and reduce violence, to build institutions and improve conditions on the ground.


Among the Israeli and Palestinian publics, there is wide support for a two-State solution, the broad outlines of which are well known to both peoples. And even in the midst of discord, ordinary Israelis and Palestinians — faith leaders, civil society groups, doctors, scientists, businessmen, students — find ways to work together every day. Their heroic efforts at the grassroots show that cooperation and progress is possible and should inspire us all.


In addition, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas are two leaders who I believe want peace. Both sides have indicated that these negotiations can be completed within one year. And as I told each of them today, this moment of opportunity may not soon come again — they cannot afford to let it slip away. Now is the time for leaders of courage and vision to deliver the peace that their people deserve.

The United States will put our full weight behind this effort. We will be an active and sustained participant. We will support those who make difficult choices in pursuit of peace. But let me very clear. Ultimately the United States cannot impose a solution, and we cannot want it more than the parties themselves. There are enormous risks involved here for all the parties concerned, but we cannot do it for them. We can create the environment and the atmosphere for negotiations, but ultimately it’s going to require the leadership on the Palestinian and the Israeli sides, as well as those in the region who say they want a Palestinian State.


A lot of times I hear from those who insist that this is a top priority and yet do very little to actually support efforts that could bring about a Palestinian State.


So only Israelis and Palestinians can make the difficult choices and build the consensus at home for progress. Only Israelis and Palestinians can prove to each other their readiness to end this conflict and make the compromises upon which lasting peace deserves.


What the rest of us can do, including the United States, is to support those conversations, support those talks, support those efforts — not try to undermine them.


So the hard work is only beginning. Neither success nor failure is inevitable. But this much we know: If we do not make the attempt, then failure is guaranteed. If both sides do not commit to these talks in earnest, then the longstanding conflict will only continue to fester and consume another generation. And this we simply cannot allow.


We know that there will be moments that test our resolve. We know that extremists and enemies of peace will do everything in their power to destroy this effort — as we saw in the heinous attacks near Hebron, which we have strongly condemned. But we also know this: Too much blood has already been shed. Too many lives have already been lost. Too many hearts have already been broken.


And despite what the cynics say, history teaches us that there is a different path. It is the path of resolve and determination, where compromise is possible, and old conflicts, at long last, can end. It is the path traveled by those who brought peace to their countries, from Northern Ireland — where Senator Mitchell was so deeply involved — to the Balkans, to Africa, Asia, to those who forged peace between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan.


This path is open to Israelis and Palestinians. If all sides persevere, in good faith and with a sense of purpose and possibility, we can build a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.





Briefing by United States Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell
on Middle East peace talks
Washington, D.C., 2 September 2010

During a press briefing on 2 September 2010, the US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, Senator George Mitchell, briefed the press on the first round of direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. The text of the press briefing is reproduced below:



MR. MITCHELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. The parties have just concluded the first round of trilateral talks. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half. It began with a plenary session involving the full US, Israeli, and Palestinian delegations on the eighth floor of the State Department and then broke to a smaller meeting in the Secretary of State’s personal office involving Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas, Secretary Clinton, and myself. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas then went into a separate meeting for a direct discussion. That meeting is still going on right now.

In the trilateral meeting, there was a long and productive discussion on a range of issues. President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed their intent to approach these negotiations in good faith and with a seriousness of purpose. They also agreed that for these negotiations to succeed, they must be kept private and treated with the utmost sensitivity. So what I and they are able to disclose to you today and in the future will be limited, but I will now describe some of the key items that were addressed in the trilateral meeting.

Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas condemned all forms of violence that target innocent civilians and pledged to work together to maintain security. They reiterated their common goal of two states for two peoples and to a solution to the conflict that resolves all issues, ends all claims, and establishes a viable State of Palestine alongside a secure State of Israel. President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed that these negotiations can be completed within one year and that the aim of the negotiations is to resolve all core issues.

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.




Press release by Egypt’s State Information Service on the second round of direct
talks between Israelis and Palestinians
Sharm el-Sheikh, 14 September 2010

On 14 September 2010, the second round of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians took place in Sharm el-Sheikh. The following is an excerpt of the press release issued by Egypt’s State Information Service:

/...

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.

/...




Declaration on the Middle East peace process adopted by the European Council
Brussels, 16 September 2010

On 16 September 2010, the European Council adopted a declaration on the Middle East peace process. The text of the declaration is reproduced below:

The European Union strongly welcomes the launch of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, announced in Washington, D.C., on 2nd September 2010, and commends the Israelis, the Palestinians and the United States as well as the Quartet and Arab partners for their efforts. The decision by the parties to engage in substantive talks represents a major step on the road towards a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the region.

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.




Statement by the Quartet
New York, 21 September 2010

The following statement was issued by the Quartet (United Nations, Russian Federation, United States and the European Union):

The Quartet expressed its strong support for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which can resolve all final status issues within one year. The Quartet reaffirmed its full commitment to its previous statements, which provide that negotiations should lead to an agreement that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours. The Quartet also confirmed its determination to support the parties throughout the negotiations and in the implementation of an agreement.

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.


Statement by United States President Barack Obama before the General Assembly
New York, 23 September 2010

On 23 September 2010, US President Barack Obama addressed the General Assembly at its sixty-fifth session’s general debate, concentrating a considerable portion on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Extracts of the text of the speech are reproduced below:

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Amidst this upheaval, we have also been persistent in our pursuit of peace. Last year, I pledged my best efforts to support the goal of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, as part of a comprehensive peace between Israel and all of its neighbors. We have travelled a winding road over the last 12 months, with few peaks and many valleys. But this month, I am pleased that we have pursued direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians in Washington, Sharm el-Sheikh and Jerusalem.

Now I recognize many are pessimistic about this process. The cynics say that Israelis and Palestinians are too distrustful of each other, and too divided internally, to forge lasting peace. Rejectionists on both sides will try to disrupt the process, with bitter words and with bombs and with gunfire. Some say that the gaps between the parties are too big; the potential for talks to break down is too great; and that after decades of failure, peace is simply not possible.

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)

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Statement by European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton
on the Middle East peace talks
Brussels, 23 September 2010

On 23 September 2010, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton made the following statement on Israel’s failure to extend the moratorium on settlements:

I have spoken with Senator George Mitchell and Quartet Envoy Tony Blair today on the latest developments regarding the Middle East peace talks and I will speak shortly to President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

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."





Statement by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas before the General Assembly
New York, 25 September 2010

On 25 September 2010, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made the following statement during the general debate of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly, excerpts of which are reproduced below:

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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.

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Report of the Elders’ visit to the Middle East,
New York, 22 October 2010

The following is the text of the report of the Elders entitled "A just and secure peace for all", which they based on their visit to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank from 15 to 22 October 2010:

Introduction

The Elders, a group of eminent global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela, made their second collective visit to the Middle East from 15-22 October 2010. Mary Robinson led the Elders’ delegation composed of Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi and Jimmy Carter. The aim of their visit was to encourage peace efforts, with an emphasis on the need to reach “a just and secure peace for all” based on international law.

The Elders began their trip in Egypt and travelled to Gaza, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the West Bank. This long-planned visit came at a crucial juncture in the stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks. The Elders heard from a wide range of government officials, civil society representatives, opinion leaders and young people, among others, about their concerns and aspirations for peace, including those who are currently at the margins of the process. This report sets out the Elders’ conclusions from the trip, which they hope will be a helpful contribution to peace efforts.

Summary of conclusions

- Peace cannot be achieved without an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.
- The window for a two-State solution is closing rapidly because of changing facts on the ground driven by settlement activity, evictions and deportations.
- An agreement on Jerusalem is central to any solution. The threats to the Arab identity of East Jerusalem are an obstacle to peace.
- In the event a negotiated settlement is not possible, alternative strategies to end the occupation and achieve Palestinian statehood are being explored.
- Israel is increasingly isolated and the population is cynical about prospects for peace.
- Challenges to Israel’s right to exist in peace must not be tolerated.
- Popular disillusionment across the Arab world is creating a volatile environment.
- Arab countries should do more to support the Palestinians.
- Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is essential.
- Human rights violations committed by the authorities in both the West Bank and Gaza must end.
- Women should play a far greater role in peace negotiations.
- Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel perceive a genuine threat to their basic rights.
- The Gaza blockade is illegal and inhumane and must be lifted altogether.
- Marginalizing the Hamas leadership from the current peace process is counter-productive.
- Violence against non-combatants, by Palestinians or Israelis, is an unacceptable violation of international law.
- A greater sense of urgency is needed to achieve a just and secure peace for all.

The occupation

Ending the occupation of Palestinian land is the only way for Israel to achieve peace and enjoy normal relations with the Palestinians and with their Arab neighbours. This includes ending all settlement activities and upholding the right of Palestinians to live in dignity and freedom in their own state. Settlement activities are contrary to international law.

A short-term extension of the partial settlement construction moratorium is not sufficient. All settlement activity must be stopped while final status negotiations are completed.

Two-State solution

The window for a two-State solution through final status negotiations is closing due to continued settlement construction and attempts to alter the multi-cultural and multi-religious character of East Jerusalem, the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Palestinians are tired of talking after almost two decades of peace efforts since the Madrid conference. An often-repeated message is that there is too much focus on process and not enough on results.

Israelis fear that, even if a two-State solution is reached, the current Palestinian leadership cannot deliver an agreement that puts an end to further claims.

The Elders believe that the two-State solution is the only outcome that can deliver peace – but a more even-handed, energetic and comprehensive approach based on rights is needed. International law cannot be compromised.

The changing character of East Jerusalem

Jerusalem lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and agreement on its future must also be at the heart of any solution. Settlements, home demolitions and deportations are threatening the Arab character of East Jerusalem. All kinds of skillful city-planning methods are being used to surround and squeeze the Palestinian population: tunnels, new roads and even tourist developments.

The Elders are concerned that Arab neighbourhoods are served very poorly in Jerusalem. Education, water, sanitation, garbage collection and roads in East Jerusalem receive a fraction of the investment of the rest of the city. This contributes to local tensions and a sense of injustice among ‘Jerusalemites’, as the residents of East Jerusalem call themselves.

All who hope and pray for peace in Jerusalem are concerned about growing tensions on the ground, which may have serious regional and global implications.

Palestinian statehood strategy

The Elders discussed options to bring about Palestinian statehood with the Palestinian leadership and others in the region. Options under consideration include the possible recognition of a Palestinian State by the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly, and strengthening international opposition to occupation and settlements through various international fora. There was a sense among many Palestinians that the door is closing on them and new and creative solutions are needed to achieve their objective of a viable Palestinian state.

Palestinian civil society is exploring alternative, non-violent ways to achieve Palestinian statehood, such as sanctions, disinvestment, boycotts and peaceful protest.

Israel’s growing international isolation

The 2008/9 war in Gaza, Israel’s response to the Goldstone Report, the fatal attack on the Gaza flotilla earlier this year and international probes into these events, have contributed to increased international opposition to Israel’s policies. This in turn is causing Israel to feel more isolated internationally.

Israel has been able to build a strong security apparatus which brings Israelis some sense of security. The Elders are concerned that the Israeli public mood appears to be one of cynicism or at best complacency about the peace process. They urge Israelis to consider that walls and military force can only achieve so much. Lasting security lies in peaceful co-existence between Israel and its neighbours.

Israel’s right to exist

Many Israelis are concerned that international criticism constitutes efforts to ‘delegitimize’ Israel, in other words challenge its right to exist. Israelis fear that many in the Arab world, including some Arab leaders, do not accept Israel’s legitimate presence in the Middle East. Israeli leaders are particularly anxious about Iran’s stated desire to see Israel destroyed. This anxiety is deeply felt across Israeli society and should not be underestimated.

The majority of Israelis genuinely want to live in peace with their neighbours. The Elders stand firmly with them and the right of Israel to a secure place in the region. The Elders’ concerns about Israeli policies are offered in that spirit and should not be interpreted in any way as being anti-Israeli.

Disillusionment across the Arab world

Governments, civil society, young and old told the Elders about growing cynicism and disillusionment across the Arab countries about prospects for peace. Expectations across the region for the stalled talks between Israel and the Palestinians are very low.

These feelings, compounded by difficult socio-economic conditions, are creating a volatile environment. Young people in particular are, in their own words, “full of rage”. They have little hope and feel a sense of frustration about peace processes and leaders that are not delivering results. The last two decades of negotiations have not contained the conflict, let alone resolved it. Right or not, there is a perception in the region that these processes have served only to extract concessions from the Palestinians.

Ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a matter of urgency. The Palestinians are paying the greatest price by living under occupation, but ending it is also critical for the Arab region and the rest of the world. Worryingly, extremists continue to exploit the conflict for their own ends, often using religious appeals, rather than nationalism, to recruit and mobilize followers.

The role of the international community

In all the Arab countries and in the occupied Palestinian Territories, the Elders heard that the influence and leadership of the United States in the final status negotiations is essential. However the United States is also perceived across the region to be too close to Israel, and there are growing doubts about Washington’s ability to play the role of “honest broker”.

President Obama’s Cairo speech raised hopes and expectations in the region, but many are disappointed with the Administration’s policy since then.

Europe is perceived to be following in Washington’s footsteps, squandering its potential leverage as the major donor to the Palestinian Territories and Israel’s biggest trading partner. The Elders feel that the other two members of the Quartet, the UN and the Russian Federation, could play a more constructive role by deferring less to Washington.

Regional responsibility

The Elders believe that the Arab Peace Initiative is a sound basis for sustainable peace and that Arab countries should do much more to support the Palestinians, rather than playing out their rivalries in the Palestinian arena.

As well as hearing views on regional attitudes to the Israeli-Palestinian process, the Elders discussed prospects for peace between Syria and Israel. Syria-Israel and Lebanon-Israel negotiations are integral to regional peace. However, it is important that talks start when all sides are ready. To start and fail repeatedly is not helpful to any process.

Palestinian unity

Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas has been a central theme in the Elders’ discussions in the region, and is essential, regardless of the strategy the Palestinians pursue towards the two-State solution. In talks with Israel, or if they choose to pursue a solution in international fora, the Palestinians will be ineffective unless they unify.

The Palestinian people deserve leadership that reflects their priorities and properly represents their aspirations. Primary responsibility for reconciliation lies with the parties, but the Gaza blockade and the international boycott of Hamas complicate this effort.

Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories

Occupation is the root cause of human rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories. Palestinians are subjected not only to violations by the occupying power, but also by the Palestinian authorities in both the West Bank and Gaza.

In meetings with the Gaza authorities the Elders raised allegations of human rights violations that had been reported to them. The authorities promised that they would investigate any specific allegations and report the outcome to the Elders. They also said that any mistakes would be corrected.

The Elders are especially concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation for girls and women in Gaza. Women and girls face insidious pressures to wear headscarves and are experiencing greater domestic violence. There is diminishing space for women to take part in public life. Women have much to contribute to a peaceful future and their participation at all levels in any peace negotiations should be increased. The Elders urged leaders in Gaza to enable women and girls to enjoy their full human rights.

In Ramallah, the Elders also discussed human rights violations committed by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. They expressed concern about ongoing reports of arbitrary detentions, allegations of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees, as well as restrictions on civil society activity. Judicial reform to provide the necessary balance to the security sector is an urgent priority.

Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel

The Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel, who make up 20 per cent of the population, do not enjoy equal social, economic and political rights. In addition to 35 existing discriminatory laws, more than twenty new laws are under consideration in the Knesset that would further erode their rights. In the Negev desert, Arab villages are being demolished and their inhabitants evicted from land they have occupied for generations.

Particularly concerning is a proposal that will require non-Jews acquiring Israeli citizenship to pledge loyalty to the country as a Jewish state. Such an oath cannot be consistent with the rights of Muslims, Christians and other minorities in Israel. Following the Israeli Foreign Minister’s recent speech at the UN General Assembly, Palestinian-Arabs in Israel perceive a real threat to their basic rights in the country.

Gaza blockade

The recent easing of the blockade means that more goods can be brought into Gaza, but people are not free to come and go, reconstruction materials are still highly restricted and there is no real economy to speak of. The Elders learned that important socio-economic indicators in Gaza are not just stagnant, they are going backwards.

It is important to state that the situation in Gaza is not primarily a humanitarian crisis – it is above all a political crisis and it must be solved politically. The economic isolation of Gaza is illegal collective punishment, but also an impediment to peace. Holding 1.5 million people, over half of them children, in what is effectively an open-air prison, is deepening the sense of anger and injustice among Palestinians and in the region. This situation is creating a generation of young people who have little to lose. This is not in anyone’s interest.

It is not enough to ease the blockade, it must be lifted fully.

Negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captive in Gaza since 2006, and Palestinian political prisoners in Israel must be brought to a conclusion urgently. The ICRC has not been allowed to visit Schalit. Some 650 Palestinian prisoners from Gaza have not seen their families for years.

Political isolation of Hamas

Whether one agrees with Hamas or not, it is clear that they represent an important constituency among Palestinian people and sooner or later will have to play a role in decision making. Marginalizing the Hamas leadership from the current peace process is counter-productive.

The Elders detected bitterness among the Hamas leadership in Gaza and Damascus about the lack of acknowledgement by the international community of Hamas’s acceptance of a Palestinian State within 1967 borders, the ceasefire Hamas has imposed in and around Gaza, and their willingness to accommodate the Arab Peace Initiative.

The Elders told Hamas leaders that the use of violence would not assist their cause and urged them to continue to pursue their political objectives through legitimate, non-violent means.

Resistance

Twenty years of failed peace talks have prompted renewed discussion about Palestinian resistance. In this context, the Elders have made clear that violence against non-combatants, by Palestinians or by Israelis, is an unacceptable violation of international law.

While it is not easy to talk about non-violence with people who have to face violence every day, the Elders hope and believe that the people can find a peaceful way forward. They are encouraged by those who are working for peaceful coexistence, and hope that this kind of creative political action will spread.

Urgency

At the conclusion of their visit to the region, having met and listened to a wide range of interlocutors, the Elders believe that a far greater sense of urgency, energy and commitment is needed to reach a just and secure peace for all.



European Union organizes seminar on “Women’s Participation in Peace-building,
Justice and Security in the OPT”
Ramallah, 9 November 2010

On 9 November 2010, a press release was issued by the European Union, the text of which is reproduced below:

EU marks 10th anniversary of UNSC Resolution 1325

To coincide with the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, EUPOL COPPS and the EU Representative hosted a seminar today on “Women’s Participation in Peace-building, Justice and Security in the OPT” at EUPOL COPPS’ HQ in Ramallah.

The seminar aimed to promote the spirit behind UNSCR 1325 while simultaneously allowing panelists from across the Palestinian security, justice and civil society sectors to tell their stories about life as a woman within their respective organizations/institutions; the challenges they face, and their ideas behind boosting female participation in all aspects of daily life in Palestine.

The seminar was co-hosted by EUPOL COPPS’ Head of Mission, Commissioner Henrik Malmquist, and the EU Representative, Mr. Christian Berger. The key-note speaker to address the seminar was Ramallah’s Mayor, H. E. Ms. Janet Mikhail.

Among the panelists were members of the Palestinian Civil Police, the Ministry of Women Affairs (MoWA), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the High Judicial Council (HJC), the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), as well as representatives from civil society organizations including the ‘Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling’, the ‘Psycho Social Counseling Centre for Women’ and the ‘Balata Women’s Centre.’

At the seminar, EUPOL COPPS’ Head of Mission, Henrik Malmquist stated that: “As an EU Mission, we at EUPOL COPPS commit ourselves to gender-mainstreaming within our own organization, and to work on the promotion and integration of gender issues with our Palestinian partners. Commissioner Malmquist also added that: “The Palestinian Civil Police and our partners within the Palestinian Criminal Justice System are institutions which serve and protect the entire Palestinian population, and we support their efforts to do so in a gender-sensitive manner”.

During his intervention, the EU Representative, Mr. Christian Berger, mentioned that: “The purpose of the UNSC Resolution 1325 is two-fold: to point to the plight of women in conflict as well to encourage governments and international organizations to have more women involved in peace-building and security”. He also added that: “The event we hold here today is one amongst many around the world to mark this very important Resolution and it is a central element to the implementation of gender equality and women’s empowerment”.

At her key note speech, the Mayor of Ramallah, Ms. Janet Mikhail, highlighted the necessity ”to keep a gender perspective in the different municipality's projects is also important as this surely reflects positively on women's status and direct needs”. She also added that: “As a mayor, and from my position, I believe it’s my duty to work with other women as together we can make a change. Networking is no doubt a powerful tool not only to create more awareness about our life and rights as Palestinians, but to exchange experience and learn from other experiments”.

Background information:

UNSCR 1325 was the first Security Council resolution to address the impact of armed conflict specifically on women. It underlined the importance of women’s equal and full participation as active agents in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security. Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment lie at the heart of the European Union’s Cooperation with third countries. On 14 June 2010 the Foreign Affairs Council adopted the first EU Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment for the period 2010-2015. This Action Plan, applicable to both European Commission and Member States’ technical and financial cooperation aims to accelerate the achievement of Millennium Development Goals on gender equality as well as to contribute to attaining other gender-related international goals.

Gender is a transversal subject being incorporated into the Palestinian Civil Police’s (PCP) basic training program. The Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling forms part of a Working Group - coordinated by EUPOL COPPS - looking at the PCP’s Human Rights basic training sessions where women’s rights and gender constitute a specific part of the draft training curriculum.

EUPOL COPPS’s Rule of Law Section also strives to promote gender and women’s and girls’ rights within all related seminars and workshops implemented in cooperation with its main partners: the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the High Judicial Council (HJC), the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the Palestinian Bar Association of Lawyers (PBA).



Statement by the Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference
on new Israeli settlement decisions
Cairo, 10 November 2010

On 10 November 2010, the Organization of the Islamic Conference issued the following press release:

The Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, strongly condemned the Israeli Government's decision to construct 1,300 new settler homes in East Jerusalem, in addition to other 800 settlement units in "Ariel settlement", built on the West Bank lands.

The Secretary-General emphasized that Israeli settlement, not only affects the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, but also represents a flagrant violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. He said that the intransigence of Israel in its violation of the international law, through imposing a new reality on the ground, settlement building, Isolating and Judaizing al-Quds city, is a blatant challenge to the international legitimacy.

The Secretary-General called the Quartet and the international community to compel Israel to stop all settlement acts that violate the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.

/...


Statement by European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek on the Quartet
and the role of European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton
Brussels, 28 November 2010

On 28 November 2010, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek in his role as Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean expressed his support for the action of the Quartet and the role played by the High Representative Catherine Ashton. The text of the statement is reproduced below:

I fully support the work of the Quartet and Baroness Ashton's strong commitment to the peace process.


I am confident that the Quartet will do its best for peace to succeed and to reach a sustainable and definitive two-State solution.


The Quartet is working as a
super partes facilitator, but for the peace process to succeed what matters is the willingness of the two sides.

Peace must be sought in deeds even more than in words. If we lose this opportunity, we might regret this for a very long time.


The Israeli decision not to extend the moratorium threatens the peace process and I regret this decision.


As Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean where Israeli and Palestinian members sit together, I am convinced that the parliamentary dimension of cooperation between the two sides is an important and encouraging example of mutual acceptance.




Statement by European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton
on the Middle East peace process
Brussels, 8 December 2010

On 8 December 2010 Catherine Ashton, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, made the following statement:

I note with regret that Israel has not been in a position to accept an extension of the moratorium as requested by the US, the EU and the Quartet. The EU position on settlements is clear: they are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. Recent settlement related developments, including in East Jerusalem, contradict the efforts by the international community for successful negotiations.

We must spare no effort to get negotiations back on track on all final status issues. There is no alternative to a negotiated two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I am in close contact with the US, in coordination within the Quartet, and working with the parties and partners in the region to continue to work towards the objective of a negotiated peace.


EU Council Conclusions on the Middle East peace process
Brussels, 13 December 2010

On 13 December 2010, the EU Council adopted the following conclusions:

1. The EU believes that urgent progress is needed towards a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We want to see the State of Israel and a sovereign, independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security. The legitimacy of the State of Israel and the right of Palestinians to achieve statehood must never be called into question.

2. The EU notes with regret that Israel has not extended the moratorium as requested by the EU, the US and the Quartet. Our views on settlements, including in East Jerusalem, are clear: they are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace. We reiterate our views on the status of Jerusalem and repeat our call for all parties to refrain from provocative unilateral actions and violence.

3. The EU affirms its readiness to contribute to a negotiated solution on all final status issues within the 12 months set by the Quartet. To this end, the EU will continue to work closely with the parties and reaffirms its support to the US efforts in order to bring the parties back to the negotiating table. The EU stresses the importance of intensified coordination within the Quartet as well as of close cooperation with Arab partners, building on the Arab Peace Initiative. The EU underlines the urgency of finding a negotiated solution and urges the parties to refrain from actions that undermine the prospects of peace. The EU remains committed to contribute substantially to post-conflict arrangements.

4. Council Conclusions of December 2009 set out the EU's views on the key parameters, principles and issues. We reiterate those Conclusions. The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties. This could include agreed territorial swaps. A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. The EU calls for an agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee question. A negotiated settlement must allow the two States to live side by side in peace and security.

5. The EU commends the work of the Palestinian Authority in building the institutions of the future State of Palestine and reiterates its full support for their endeavours in this regard and the Fayyad plan. Recalling the Berlin Declaration, the Council reiterates its readiness, when appropriate, to recognize a Palestinian state. We welcome the World Bank's assessment 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 EU remains ready to develop further its bilateral relations with Israel within the framework defined at the Association Council of June 2009 and by its conclusions of December 2009. Within the framework of these conclusions, the EU is also ready to develop further its bilateral relations with the Palestinian Authority.

6. The EU recalls that peace in the Middle East should be comprehensive and reiterates the importance of negotiations on the Israel-Syria and Israel-Lebanon tracks. Peace should lead to the full integration of Israel in its regional environment, along the lines set out in the Arab Peace Initiative.

7. Recalling the Council Conclusions of June 2010, the EU remains extremely concerned by the prevailing situation in Gaza. The EU reiterates its call for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza. Despite some progress following the decision of the Israeli Government of 20 June 2010 to ease the closure, changes on the ground have been limited and insufficient so far. Further efforts and complementary measures are needed to achieve a fundamental change of policy that allows for the reconstruction and economic recovery of Gaza as well as improve the daily lives of the population while addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns. The Council calls on those holding the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him without delay. The Council calls for a complete stop of rocket attacks at Israel and all other forms of violence.

8. Palestinian exports are an essential component of Gaza's recovery. In this respect, the EU welcomes the recent announcement by the Israeli Government concerning new measures to facilitate exports out of Gaza. We encourage a swift implementation by Israel and are ready to work with Israel towards achieving pre-2007 levels of exports in 2011 to produce real change on the ground. Increased and accelerated imports of construction materials are another crucial component of Gaza's recovery and also for building schools and health centres.

9. The EU recalls its readiness to assist in the reconstruction and economic recovery of Gaza in close partnership with the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government, in line with UNSC Resolution 1860 and on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. As parts of a comprehensive EU approach, including CSDP missions, the EU is ready to extend its support to improvements to the crossings infrastructure, to purchase and install the necessary equipment and also to train Palestinian border and crossings management personnel to operate the crossings.



Letter by the Permanent Representative of Israel to the
United Nations, Meron Reuben, on the situation in the Middle East
New York, 21 December 2010

On 21 December 2010, the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, Meron Reuben, transmitted identical letters to the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, the text of which is reproduced below:

I write to inform you of a series of serious incidents in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip that threaten peace and stability in our region.

Earlier today, 21 December 2010, at approximately 8 a.m. local time, a Qassam rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into the Ashkelon area of southern Israel, landing in Kibbutz Zikim. This rocket exploded near a kindergarten just as dozens of parents were dropping off their children at school, injuring a 14-year-old girl.

The incident follows a spate of attacks emanating from Gaza since 19 December 2010, encompassing the launch of some three rockets and 18 mortars into the regions of Eshkol and Ashkelon in southern Israel. These attacks included the launch of six mortars on 19 December 2010 at Israel Defense Forces operating near the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

The incidents of the past several days are part of an escalation of terrorist attacks emanating from Gaza that target Israeli civilians, towns and military personnel. Israel holds the de facto authority in the Gaza Strip completely responsible for all of these incidents, which are carried out in clear violation of international law. In response to such attacks, Israel has exercised and will continue to exercise its right to self-defence.

In a previous letter dated 9 December 2010 (S/2010/623), I mentioned that the escalation of such attacks should be viewed with the utmost seriousness. With the intention of preventing the continued escalation of conflict, the Security Council, the Secretary-General and the international community must send a clear and resolute message that these attacks are unacceptable.

In addition, the Security Council must give appropriate attention to the smuggling of arms into Gaza, which continues to fuel violence and instability in our region, in violation of numerous Security Council resolutions, including resolution 1860 (2009).

I should be grateful if you would have the present letter distributed as a document of the Security Council.




European Union Institute for Security Studies publishes paper
on the European involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict
Brussels, December 2010

The following is the summary of a paper prepared by the European Union Institute for Security Studies on the European involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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:


Overall, these recommendations address both those searching for bold conflict resolution steps and those seeking to minimize the harm done to peace prospects by current trends. This Chaillot Paper thus invites both skeptics and enthusiasts to further explore the full array of policy options and policy constraints that the EU faces with a more grounded and ambitious, and perhaps more ‘European’, vision and purpose.




Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization issues report on
Israeli violations of the road map between 1 October and 31 December 2010
Ramallah, 31 December 2010

The following is a summary by the Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization of its report on Israeli violations of the road map between 1 October and 31 December:

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

A. Construction

• 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


In this reporting period, Israeli authorities issued at least three new housing tenders for the construction of some 238 units, all of them in settlements located in and around East Jerusalem.

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.

C. Outposts

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.

C. Demolitions

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.

Notes

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.
4 ICBS.
5 B’tselem.
6 Associated Press.
7 Data unavailable for these settlements.
8 ICBS.
9 Ir Amim; Ha’aretz; Jerusalem Post; and Ynet.
10Peace Now.
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.
15Associated Press.
16Displacement Working Group.


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