Europe's unwavering support to the Palestinian people
article by Javier Solana
EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
published by Al Hayat on 24 April 2006
Europe has always been at the forefront in defending Palestinian national aspirations. Long before the Road Map and the plan to set up two States on the basis of the end of the occupation which began in 1967, the Venice Declaration clearly identified the two-State solution as the only stable and fair settlement of the conflict, in accordance with Europe's interests.
Since Oslo, we have sought to work in partnership with the Palestinians to build the institutions of their future State. The architecture of our financial and technical assistance was largely designed with that goal in mind. It was always regarded as a relationship between equals, reflecting shared values.
At the same time our solidarity with the Palestinian people has never wavered. In the dark moments of the conflict in recent years, Europe was also a key driving force, seeking to improve the functioning of the Palestinian economy and to remedy the Palestinian population's deteriorating humanitarian situation. This is why Europe has been and remains the biggest contributor to the Palestinian people, and tomorrow it will continue with the same spirit of friendship and openhandedness with the Palestinian society. Europe's commitment was highly practical form and reflected in a multifaceted cooperation effort based on a comprehensive range of financial and technical assistance programmes. The presence of two important missions on the ground, one assisting the police, the other providing monitoring, technical and training support at the Rafah border crossing, is further evidence of our firm commitment.
In the new situation following the Palestinian elections, we have remained true to our principles.
We respect the Palestinians' democratic choice; we do not intend to punish them or to blackmail the Government they have chosen. But if the party in power no longer shares the peace agenda underpinning our partnership or a vision of a pluralist Palestinian society attached to the rule of law and respect for human rights, we are obliged to reflect on the conditions under which the European Community and the Governments of the Union may continue to use European taxpayers' money in the context of assistance to the Palestinians and their institutions. Our laws require us, at all costs, to avoid funding terrorist activities. Our political goals require us to ensure that the actions of both parties to the conflict remain compatible with the two-State solution negotiated between the parties.
These goals are shared by President Abbas, the Quartet, the Arab League and the international community as a whole.
I do not think that a stable society which respects the basic principles of our partnership with the Palestinian Authority can be built on a culture of violence. Terrorism can never be justified. The right to resist occupation, the recognised right of all occupied peoples, does not justify the atrocities committed in its name, whatever the actions or the means used by the occupying power. Such acts have caused the Palestinian people nothing but misfortune.
Compliance with past commitments is a sine qua non for stable international relations. ThePalestinian elections took place and the current Government took power democratically precisely because that was provided for in the Oslo Accords. The EU spearheaded moves to ensure that those elections were properly conducted. It provided substantial technical assistance to that end and the largest international observer mission.
The responsibilities of power are far heavier than those of opposition. The two parties to the conflict have to break free of the cycle of punishment and revenge which has imprisoned them since the conflict began. This appeal is also addressed to Israel's new Government. The zero-sum game will mean only more bloodshed, more suffering and more insecurity for both sides. Unilateral solutions will not generate justice or stability. Reciprocal recognition is not an option, it is a necessity, even if that does not imply acceptance of all the other party's demands.
Europe stands ready to renew its commitments in support of a negotiated process leading to the creation of two States living side by side in peace and security. It will not legitimise any unilateral decisions by either party which would place that final goal beyond reach. And, of course, we will never let the Palestinian people down.