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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 December 2007



Division for Palestinian Rights


DEVELOPMENTS RELATED TO THE MIDDLE EAST

PEACE PROCESS

Issue 22 • January-December 2007




Conclusions of the Madrid+15 conference
Madrid, 10 to 12 January 2007

Meetings of United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Minister for Foreign Affairs
Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Berlin, 18 January 2007

Conclusions by the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the European Union on the Middle East Peace Process
Brussels, 22 January 2007

Press release issued by the World Economic Forum at its
Annual Meeting 2007 on Israeli and Palestinian commitment to dialogue
Davos, Switzerland, 25 January 2007

Statement by the Quartet on the situation in the Middle East
Washington, D.C., 2 February 2007

Statement by United States Secretary of State Rice Condoleezza Rice, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after their tripartite meeting
Jerusalem, 19 February 2007

Statement by the Quartet
Berlin, 21 February 2007

The Riyadh Declaration
Riyadh, 29 March 2007

Resolution adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
on the situation in the Middle East
Strasbourg, France, 19 April 2007

Joint declaration of the 2007 United States-European Union Summit on
promoting peace, human rights and democracy worldwide
Washington, D.C., 30 April 2007

Chair’s summary of the G-8 Summit 2007
Heilligendamm, Germany, 8 June 2007

Statement by the Quartet after a conference call
15 June 2007

Statement by the Quartet on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Lisbon, 20 July 2007

Excerpts from the joint statement by Egypt, Jordan, and the United States
at the meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Gulf
Cooperation Council
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, 31 July 2007

Statement by the Quartet on the situation in the Middle East
23 September 2007

Conclusions by the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the European Union on the Middle East Peace Process
Luxembourg, 17 October 2007

Statement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the Annapolis Conference
Annapolis, Maryland, 27 November 2007

Annapolis Conference joint understanding and statements
Joint Understanding on Negotiations
27 November 2007

“Building a Palestinian State” – Executive Summary
Paris Donors’ Conference
Paris, 17 December 2007





UNITED NATIONS
New York

December 2007




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This bulletin and its back issues can be found in the
United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) at:

www.un.org/Depts/dpa/qpal/

**

Printed copies of this publication, and back issues, can be obtained from:

United Nations Secretariat
Division for Palestinian Rights
Room S-3350
New York, New York 10017
Fax: 212-963-4199




Conclusions of the Madrid+15 Conference
Madrid, 10 to 12 January 2007

A conference entitled “Madrid: Fifteen years later towards peace in the Middle East”, that was organized by the Madrid +15 team, was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Madrid from 10 to 12 January 2007 where it addressed concerns and expectations. The team is comprised of the Toledo International Center for Peace (CITpax), Search for Common Ground, Fundación Tres Culturas del Mediterráneo, Fafo-AIS and International Crisis Group (ICG). It was made possible by contributions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Norway, Spain and Sweden. Following are excerpts from the conclusions of the conference:

/…

Conclusions

The Madrid +15 meeting offered an opportunity to reflect on the successes and failures of the Madrid process. It provided an excellent opportunity to reignite participants’ interests in moving forward on the challenges emanating from regional conflicts, as well as an opportunity for civil society representatives and officials to interact and exchange perspectives on the common goals of the conference.

We had a frank debate on where the Middle East stands today and on outstanding issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

We heard an honest exchange of views on concerns, constraints and opportunities on issues between Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, as well as the regional approach.

There is a need to firmly reassert the spirit of Madrid 1991: a spirit of compromise and reason and an approach that is regional in scope. While the region has changed in the past 15 years, the spirit of Madrid 1991 and subsequent efforts such as the Clinton Parameters of 2000, the Arab League Peace Initiative of 2002 and the road map remain a basis upon which to bridge the remaining differences and assist in creating the political will tragically missing today.

There is a clear sense of urgency in this challenge. Participants discouraged interim agreements as a negotiated destination and called for an immediate return to negotiations towards a final and expedient comprehensive regional agreement.

Participants reached a general consensus on the need for international engagement to seize the opportunity of this meeting and push the process forward. Many encouraged states to convene an official international peace conference for the region of the Near East in the “spirit of Madrid”.

A recommendation was made for a follow-up meeting to explore ways the participants can move towards these goals. A steering group should be formed to guide the process. In this regard, the organizers of “Madrid +15” will be in touch with the participants.

/…



Meetings of United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with German Chancellor
Angela Merkel and Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Berlin, 18 January 2007
From 12 to 17 January 2007, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice toured the Middle East (Israel, Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and, Kuwait), and met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Vice Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni and Minister of Defense Amir Peretz in Israel, and with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian territory. On 18 January 2012, Ms. Rice met separately with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier after which the following conclusions were issued in a press release released by the Government of Germany:

Movement in the Middle East conflict
Thu, 18.01.2007

Chancellor Angela Merkel underscored that Germany and America have a joint interest in finding a solution to the Middle East conflict. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, just back from the region, briefed Merkel on the results of her tour. The Middle East Quartet is being reconvened in Washington, D.C., early in February at the invitation of the American Government.

Commenting before her meeting with Rice, Merkel noted that it was her impression that things are starting to move in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "We are willing to make a political contribution," she reaffirmed.

Rice underscored the importance of transatlantic cooperation during Germany’s EU Presidency. She agreed with Merkel that progress in the Middle East conflict will have a positive effect on the situation in the region as a whole.

The peace process in the Middle East is one of the priorities of the German EU Presidency. On her first visit to Washington, D.C. in her capacity as Council President, Merkel urged President Bush to revive the activities of the Middle East Quartet.

Situation developing

Commenting after his meeting with Rice the previous day, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier noted: "We both take the view that the time is ripe for a meeting of the Quartet." He indicated that the situation in the Middle East continued to be critical.

New impetus in the talks resumed between the Israelis and Palestinians is important, Steinmeier said. The international community needs to act in concert and with determination in a situation like this.

Steinmeier: "Of course we can’t be a substitute for the political will of the parties involved in the conflict. But we must provide impetus and stand ready to help where they are unable to move forward without our support."

He said initial concrete steps have been agreed between President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert and need to be followed up by further steps.

Important consultations

Rice thanked Steinmeier for a wide-ranging exchange of views. She said she is looking forward to working with the German Government during its EU Presidency.

Rice stressed that the revitalization of the Middle East Quartet is intended to lead to a two-State solution, Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in democracy, peace and freedom.

She expects the Quartet to support a continuation of the road map, seeing as the latter is recognized internationally, including by the Israelis and Palestinians.

She said it will probably be a few weeks before a planned meeting between Olmert and Abbas can take place. It has to be preceded by a meeting of the Quartet to coordinate the efforts of the international community.

The Middle East Quartet consists of the European Union, the United States, Russia and the United Nations. It formulated the road map and will monitor its implementation.


Conclusions by the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the European Union
on the Middle East Peace Process
Brussels, 22 January 2007

On 22 January 2007, following its 2776th meeting in Brussels, the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the European Union issued its conclusions on the Middle East peace process, the text of which is reproduced below:

1. The Council expresses its full support for President Abbas and his continued efforts for national unity. It calls on all Palestinians to support these efforts and to end internal violence. The European Union stands ready to work with a legitimate Palestinian Government that adopts a platform reflecting the Quartet principles.

2. The Council welcomes the meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas on 23 December 2006 and emphasizes the need for prompt implementation of commitments made at this meeting. It takes note of the partial transfer by Israel of withheld Palestinian tax and customs revenues. It calls for the early resumption of the 2005 Sharm el-Sheikh understandings. The Council expresses the hope that this meeting will be the first in a series of meetings in the framework of a renewed political process, which should lead to meaningful negotiations on the final status. The ultimate goal should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967 and the creation of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living side by side with Israel and its other neighbours in peace and security.

3. The Council calls on the parties to consolidate the ceasefire in Gaza and to extend it to the West Bank. It condemns the continued firing of rockets into Israeli territory and urges the Palestinian leadership to do everything in its power to put an end to such acts. While commending Israel for its present restraint concerning Gaza, it calls for an end to Israeli military interventions in the West Bank.

4. The European Union calls for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier and commends efforts, including by partners in the region, to that effect. It also calls for the immediate release of Palestinian ministers and legislators detained in Israel.

5. The EU stresses the importance of strengthening the Palestinian institutions. It will continue to pursue practical and visible measures, including on access and movement, governance, the security sector and a functioning administration. It welcomes the extension of the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) for three months, which – in coordination with the Office of the President – is providing essential relief to a large part of the Palestinian population. It reiterates its call on Israel for the immediate transfer of all withheld Palestinian tax and customs revenues. It encourages Israel to consider to do so through the TIM. The Council recalls the utmost importance of the full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access and in this regard reiterates its continued commitment to the EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah. It urges that Rafah and all other crossing points, notably Karni, be reopened and remain open.

6. The EU is deeply concerned about the recent authorization of settlement activities by the Israeli Government, and the ongoing construction of the barrier on Palestinian land. These developments are contrary to international law and the road map. The Council calls on Israel to desist from any action that threatens the viability of an agreed two-State solution. Settlement activities in and around East-Jerusalem as well as in the Jordan valley are of particular concern. The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders other than those agreed by both parties.

7. In this context, the European Union emphasizes its determination to play an active role in the framework of increased Quartet engagement, with a view to urgently put in place a political and diplomatic process offering a political perspective in the quest for a comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Arab conflict, in line with the road map and the relevant Security Council resolutions, and also taking into account the League of Arab States Beirut Declaration. The Council underlines the need to work closely with the parties and regional partners. In accordance with the road map, the Quartet, in consultation with the parties, should in due course convene an international conference to realize these goals. At this critical moment, the Council looks forward to an early meeting of Quartet principals.


Press release issued by the World Economic Forum at its
Annual Meeting 2007 on Israeli and Palestinian commitment to dialogue
Davos, Switzerland, 25 January 2007

On 25 January 2007, the World Economic Forum, at its Annual Meeting 2007, released the following press release on Israeli and Palestinian commitment to dialogue.

Davos, Switzerland, 25 January 2007 – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni today reiterated their commitment to finding a two-State solution and to resuming long-stalled negotiations.

"The Middle East is in dire need of peace and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one of the most serious conflicts that require a solution," President Abbas told the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2007. "Dialogue between nations and different sectors of society will lead to peace."

Noting previous agreements signed with Israel, as well as other peace initiatives, such as the UN-sponsored road map, President Abbas called for resuming negotiations that will ultimately lead to a Palestinian State.

"What is required now is for us to trace the beginning and the end of this peace process," he said. "Our hand remains outstretched to start the negotiation process. Fear and despair must be replaced by hope and forgiveness. Nothing is more important than peace … for our children."

Vice-Prime Minister Livni reciprocated the call to seek peace for future generations.

"Our responsibility is to give them hope, this is something we owe them," Livni said after viewing with the Davos participants several filmed messages of peace from young Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv.

"If what can come out of this is a promise to generations to come that we will take all the measures to bring peace to our region."

Livni, like Abbas, also envisions a two-State solution to the conflict, but asked what the best way is to achieve this goal. She reaffirmed Israel’s commitment to the road map, but said that the current Palestinian Government must fulfil its part of the agreement, including the acceptance of Israel’s right to exist and the renouncement of terrorism.

"There is a Palestinian State at the end of the process, but the terrorism must be dismantled," Livni stressed. "This is a step-by-step process but gives a political horizon."

She added that in order to realize the two-State vision, moderates on both sides need to fight against the extremists that want to destroy it.

"I know there is an expectation to see us advancing," Livni said. "I know it’s not easy … but we want to negotiate, to talk, to share ideas and to find common denominators."

Adding to the discussion, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres said that the problems are solvable and appealed to the international business community to invest in the region, particularly in a proposed shared economic zone between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories. "Companies are looking for emerging markets," Peres said "If you are global you must be interested in the globality of peace."

Closing the session, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, said that Peres’ appeal to investors is already being answered, announcing that the Forum is in the advanced stage of creating an Israeli-Palestinian business council to stimulate foreign investment. "We have heard from the young people the expectations of hope … we have heard from the leaders," Schwab said. "I hope we all join the efforts to find a lasting solution."


Statement by the Quartet on the situation in the Middle East
Washington, D.C., 2 February 2007
On 2 February 2007, a statement was issued by the Quartet on the situation in the Middle East, the text of which is reproduced below:

The Quartet principals (Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Javier Solana, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner) met today in Washington, D.C., to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

The Quartet welcomed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the representative of the European Union Presidency, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Recognizing the critical need to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which would contribute to security and stability in the region, the Quartet pledged to support efforts to put in place a process with the goal of ending the occupation that began in 1967 and creating an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living side by side in peace and security with Israel, and reaffirmed its commitment to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace based on Security Council resolution 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).

The Quartet expressed the hope that the result-oriented dialogue initiated between Israeli and Palestinian leaders will continue in the framework of a renewed political process, with the aim of launching meaningful negotiations.

The Quartet undertook to give active follow-up to these meetings and to remain closely engaged at this moment of increased activity and dialogue. The Quartet reaffirmed its commitment to meet regularly at both the principals and envoys level according to an agreed calendar, including with the parties and other regional partners, to monitor developments and actions taken by the parties and to discuss the way ahead.

The Quartet noted its support for renewed dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and welcomed the 23 December meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and the subsequent implementation of some steps discussed at that meeting. The Quartet urged the parties to implement fully steps discussed at the 23 December meeting, to refrain from taking any measures that could predetermine the number of issues that will be resolved in negotiations, to meet their respective obligations under phase one of the road map and under the Agreement on Movement and Access, and to seek to fulfill their obligations under the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings of 2005.

The Quartet discussed US efforts to facilitate discussions between the parties. The Quartet welcomed the upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Olmert, President Abbas and Secretary of State Rice, that could begin to define more clearly the political horizon for the Palestinian people, and help engender a sense of partnership. The Quartet affirmed the primacy of the road map and welcomed US efforts to accelerate progress on the road map.

The Quartet noted the continuing importance of the Arab Peace Initiative, particularly its reflection of a shared commitment to a two-State solution.

The Quartet reiterated its call for an immediate and unconditional end to all acts of violence and terror. It condemned the suicide bombing in Eilat on 29 January and called once again for an immediate end to all rocket attacks against Israel.

The Quartet expressed its deep concern at the violence among Palestinians and called for respect for law and order.

The Quartet called for continued international assistance to the Palestinian people, and encouraged donors to focus on preserving and building the capacity of institutions of Palestinian governance as well as the development of the Palestinian economy. The Quartet welcomed international efforts to reform the Palestinian security sector and thus to help improve law and order for the Palestinian people. It called for the Temporary International Mechanism to be further developed to support the political process, to identify suitable projects for international support in the areas of governance, institution-building and economic development, and urged other members of the international community to consider practical support to the parties.

The Quartet called for Palestinian unity in support of a government committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the road map. The Quartet reaffirmed that these principles endure. The Quartet reiterated its call for the PA Government to commit to these principles.


Statement by United States Secretary of State Rice Condoleezza Rice,
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert after their tripartite meeting
Jerusalem, 19 February 2007

On 19 February 2007, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem. The US State Department issued the following press release after the tripartite meeting, the text of which is reproduced below:
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met on 19 February. It was a useful and productive meeting.

The leaders affirmed their commitment to a two-State solution, agreed that a Palestinian State cannot be born of violence and terror, and reiterated their acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the road map.

The President and the Prime Minister discussed how to move forward on mutual obligations in the road map in regard to the implementation of Phase I.

The participants called for respecting the ceasefire declared in November.

The President and the Prime Minister also discussed issues arising from the agreement for a Palestinian national unity government, and the position of the Quartet that any Palestinian Authority Government must be committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including regarding the road map.

The President and the Prime Minister discussed their views of the diplomatic and political horizon and how it might unfold toward the two-State vision of President George W. Bush.

The President and the Prime Minister agreed that they would meet together again soon. They reiterated their desire for American participation and leadership in facilitating efforts to overcome obstacles, rally regional and international support, and move forward toward peace.



Statement by the Quartet
Berlin, 21 February 2007

On 21 February 2007, the Quartet principals met in Berlin and issued the following statement:

The Quartet principals met today in Berlin to discuss the situation in the Middle East. Secretary Rice reported on her recent 18 February meetings with Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas, the 19 February trilateral and US efforts to facilitate discussions between the parties. The Quartet welcomed these efforts and expressed the hope that the result-oriented dialogue initiated between Israeli and Palestinian leaders will continue in the framework of a renewed political process with the aim of defining more clearly the political horizon and launching meaningful negotiations.

The Quartet reaffirmed its determination to promote such a process in cooperation with the parties and other regional partners. The Quartet urged the parties to refrain from measures that prejudge issues to be resolved in negotiations.

The Quartet reaffirmed its statements regarding its support for a Palestinian Government committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the road map, and encouraged progress in this direction.

The Quartet discussed efforts underway for a Palestinian national unity government pursuant to the agreement reached in Mecca on 8 February. The Quartet expressed its appreciation for the role of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the cessation of violence among Palestinians.

The Quartet concluded with a discussion of possible further steps by international community in the context of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. It welcomed the preliminary ideas put forward by the European Commission to meet the need to better coordinate and mobilize international assistance in support of the political process and to meet the needs of the Palestinian people.

The Quartet reaffirmed its commitment to meet regularly and asked envoys to monitor developments and actions taken by the parties and to discuss the way ahead. It was agreed to schedule a meeting in the region soon.



The Riyadh Declaration
Riyadh, 29 March 2007

The nineteenth session of the Council of Arab States was held on 29 March 2007 in Riyadh. At the conclusion of the session, the Riyadh Declaration was issued, excerpts from which are reproduced below:

We, the leaders of Arab States, meeting in the nineteenth session of the Council of the League of Arab States at the summit level in Riyadh, capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabic, on 28 and 29 March 2007,

- Based on the principles and aims stated in the charter of the League of Arab States and other Arab conventions, including the document of covenant, accord and solidarity between Arab countries, and the document of development and modernization in the Arab world;

- Inspired by our religious and Arab values that renounce all forms of immoderation, extremism and racism; and stressing the aims of boosting the Arab identity, deepening its cultural bases, and continuing its open humanistic message, while facing the challenges and risks threatening to re-schematize the state of affairs in the region, dissolve the common Arab identity, and undermine the connections that bind us;

/…

Declaration 5

- Affirm the option of just and comprehensive peace as a strategic option for the Arab nation, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative that draws the right path for reaching a peaceful settlement for the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the principles and resolutions of international legitimacy, and the land for peace formula.

/…

Declaration 6

The dangerous conditions witnessed by our region, where Arab land is violated, Arab resources are wasted and Arab identity and culture is threatened, necessitate that we honestly and deeply reexamine our state of affairs. We are all leaders, officials and citizens; parents and children; partners in drawing our own destiny and preserving our identity, culture, values and interests. Dangerous challenges can only increase the resolve and faith of great nations. The Arab nation is capable, with God’s help, to achieve the security, dignity and prosperity it deserves when it unifies its ranks and strengthens its joint action.

/…


Resolution adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
on the situation in the Middle East
Strasbourg, France, 19 April 2007

On 19 April 2007, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted resolution 1550 (2007) on the situation in the Middle East, the text of which is reproduced below:

1. The Parliamentary Assembly refers to its Resolution 1493 (2006) on the situation in the Middle East and Resolution 1520 (2006) on recent developments in Lebanon in the context of the situation in the Middle East.

2. The Assembly welcomes the efforts made by the Palestinian President and Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and the new Government of national union to cooperate and bring about a halt to the escalation of violence between them by signing an agreement in Mecca on 8 February 2007, which led to the nomination of a new Government of national unity on 17 March 2007.

3. While welcoming the creation of a Government of national unity, which should lay the foundation for Palestinian reconciliation, the Assembly also expects that both sides will strive to do their utmost to eliminate political confrontation and opt for accommodation, and will channel existing tensions in order not to affect the future of this Government.

4. The Assembly regrets, however, that the Government of national unity has not committed itself to the requirements of the Quartet (the Russian Federation, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations), namely the recognition of Israel, commitment to the principle of non-violence and abidance by previous peace accords.

5. The Assembly nevertheless sees in this Government a potential new interlocutor in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In order to reinitiate peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it is important that dialogue be established with this new Government.

6. The Assembly believes that it is now urgent to reactivate the peace process and to move toward a two-State solution.

7. To that end, the Assembly welcomes the renewed commitment by the League of Arab States, which met in Riyadh on 27 and 28 March 2007, to the Arab Peace Initiative, which was first proposed in 2002. This initiative foresees the normalization of relations between the Arab world and Israel in exchange for the return to the 1967 borders, the inclusion of Arab East Jerusalem in a Palestinian State and the agreement on a solution to the question of Palestinian refugees.

8. The Assembly, underlining the principle of the refugees’ right of return, is ready to hold a round table discussion with the participation of the Israelis and Palestinians in order to share Europe's history and knowledge on the issue of people displaced from ancestral homes as a result of historical developments.

9. The Assembly believes that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority should seize this window of opportunity which could become a real breakthrough in the move towards a global settlement between the Arab world and Israel.

10. The Assembly would strongly urge all parties not to lose this unique momentum.

11. In this context, the Assembly believes that the commencement of regular meetings between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is an encouraging sign and offers prospects for the future.

12. The Assembly welcomes the first in a series of intended biweekly talks between Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas which took place on 15 April 2007, which addressed for the first time after six years of paralysis in the peacemaking process general outlines for a Palestinian State.

13. Furthermore, the Assembly can only welcome the proposal made by Israeli Prime Minister Olmert in response to the initiative put forward at the Riyadh Summit, to invite all Arab leaders to hold direct talks with Israel in the framework of a Summit on the Middle East, demonstrating thereby a constructive approach to renewed dialogue.

14. The Assembly believes that the international community, in particular the Quartet and notably the European Union, should also grasp this opportunity to contribute to the progress being made towards an Arab-Israeli peace settlement and should be actively engaged in this respect.

15. As stated in Resolution 1520 (2006), the Council of Europe should actively contribute to the creation of a positive climate in the region capable of fostering a political settlement. The Third Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe, held in Warsaw in 2005, set out clear priorities for future action, including the promotion of democratic values and intercultural dialogue.

16. Considering the presence of Israeli observers and Palestinian parliamentarians during Parliamentary Assembly sessions, the Assembly considers itself to be particularly well-placed to pursue such a dialogue at the parliamentary level with all parties concerned in the region.

17. The Assembly recalls its proposal set forth in Resolution 1420 (2005) to establish a tripartite forum allowing Parliamentarians from the Knesset, the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Parliamentary Assembly to sit together on an equal footing, with the right to speak, and make proposals on questions of common interest. The Assembly notes with satisfaction that its Political Affairs Committee is working on the implementation of this proposal.

18. The Assembly is convinced that the tripartite forum could greatly contribute to enhanced confidence at parliamentary level and hence foster the peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict. However, for the tripartite forum to become a reality, goodwill and action from both sides – Israel and the Palestinian Authority – are needed.

19. In this regard, the Assembly resolves to continue facilitating contacts between members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Knesset at parliamentary level.

20. The Assembly firmly believes that the only way to establish peace and stability in the region is through democracy, respect for all human rights and the rule of law.

21. Furthermore, the Assembly reaffirms that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority should be viewed within the broader context of the Middle East region and the volatile situation and insecurity in countries like Lebanon, Syria or Iraq, and the destabilizing and threatening activities of Iran, thus making it indispensable to create dialogue among all countries of the region and resolves to facilitate contacts at the parliamentary level with the region.

22. The Assembly condemns acts of terrorism, including abduction of civilians which are increasingly frequent in the region and which ultimately affect the stability of the whole region, and should be eliminated in order for the region not to be confronted with a new cycle of atrocities, as has recently been the case in the terrorist attacks in Morocco and Algeria. The Assembly also condemns the spiritual, political and financial support from foreign Governments, first and foremost, Iran, to organizations and groups that spread violence and commit terrorist acts in the most sensitive regions of the Middle East: Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Iraq. The Assembly strongly condemns these attacks.

23. The Assembly is deeply concerned for the safety of the BBC reporter Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped a month ago in Gaza, and calls on the kidnappers to release him immediately. Several foreign journalists have been kidnapped in the Palestinian territories since January 2006, but all have been freed, and several media outlets have been attacked. The Assembly also deplores that the correspondent of the French newspaper Libération, Didier François, was wounded on 17 December 2006 in shooting in Gaza. Recalling its Resolution 1535 (2007) and Recommendation 1783 (2007) on threats to the lives and freedom of expression of journalists, the Assembly calls on the Palestinian Authority to ensure proper investigations of these attacks on journalists and media. The Assembly furthermore recalls its Resolution 1438 (2005) and Recommendation 1702 (2005) on freedom of the press and the working conditions of journalists in conflict zones, and its Recommendation 1706 (2005) on media and terrorism, and urges the Palestinian Authority to do everything in order to ensure that journalists can work safely and without undue restrictions

24. The Assembly calls on the Palestinian leaders to:

24.1. renounce violence, recognize the State of Israel within secure internationally recognized borders and to comply with past agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority;

24.2. enforce law and order;

24.3. protect and consolidate the nascent opportunity to establish a renewed dialogue and serious negotiations with Israel;

24.4. ensure that internal differences between Fatah and Hamas do not slow down or impede dialogue with leaders from Israel;

24.5. release Israeli soldiers against whom no precise charges have been brought;

24.6. take steps to stop daily launching of Qassam rockets.

25. The Assembly calls on the leaders of Israel to:

25.1. start working with the Palestinian Government of national unity;

25.2. confirm, by concrete action, Israel’s expressed commitment to the resumption of negotiations and political dialogue;

25.3. facilitate Palestinian movement and trade;

25.4. release those Palestinian parliamentarians and ministers against whom no precise charges have been brought;

25.5. resume the transfer of outstanding Palestinian revenues;

25.6. put an immediate end to the construction of the security wall;

25.7. commit themselves to implement all United Nations Security Council resolutions.

26. The Assembly calls on parliamentarians from the Knesset and the Palestinian Legislative Council to co-operate with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in order to pave the way for the organization of the tripartite forum.

27. The Assembly calls on the European Union to:

27.1. actively contribute to the creation of a positive climate enabling the resumption of peace negotiations;

27.2. continue its financial assistance to the Palestinian people and thereafter monitor the expenditure of funds.

28. The Assembly calls on the Parliaments of the region to contribute to regional stability and to engage in a meaningful dialogue for peace.

29. At the same time, the Assembly resolves to explore the possibility of organizing a round table with representatives of civil society, scholars and youth organizations, both from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in order to share views on the Arab-Israeli peace process.


Joint declaration of the 2007 United States-European Union Summit on
promoting peace, human rights and democracy worldwide
Washington, D.C., 30 April 2007

During a summit held in Washington, D.C. on 30 April 2007, the United States and the European Union issued the following declaration, excerpts of which are reproduced below:
2007 EU-US SUMMIT: PROMOTING PEACE, HUMAN RIGHTS AND
DEMOCRACY WORLDWIDE

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We will continue to work closely together, including through the Quartet, to promote a renewed political process between Israeli and Palestinian leaders with the goal of creating an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living side by side in peace and security with Israel. We agree on the continuing need for a Palestinian Authority Government committed to the Quartet principles: renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations made by the Palestinian Authority, including the road map. The commitment of the national unity Government to the Quartet principles of peace will be measured not only on the basis of its composition and platform, but also its actions. We are working jointly for the full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access and call on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to take the necessary steps. We will continue work to develop an international support mechanism for the Palestinians, with the objective of assisting the population and improving governance, and will pursue efforts to reform and professionalize the legitimate Palestinian security forces to allow them to reestablish law and order and an end to all acts of terrorism.
Chair’s summary of the G-8 Summit 2007
Heilligendamm, Germany, 8 June 2007

At the conclusion of the G-8 Summit 2007, held in Heilligendamm, Germany, the Chair’s Summary was adopted that included the following declaration on the Middle East peace process:

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III.
Foreign Policy and Security Issues

Middle East Peace Process: We reiterate our firm commitment to a comprehensive just and lasting peace solution in the Middle East. The Middle East Quartet, which plays a central role in this respect, enjoys our full support. We hope that the continued talks between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas will lay the foundation for negotiations on the establishment of a Palestinian State, consistent with the road map and based on the Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002) and 1515 (2003). In this context, we welcome the reaffirmation of the Arab Peace Initiative and the intention of the Arab League to engage with Israel on this initiative. We call for an immediate end to violence against Israel, especially the continued firing of Qassam rockets into Southern Israel, and for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier, and urge all Palestinian factions to end internal violence and to respect the ceasefire. We call on Israel to show restraint in responding to these attacks and to refrain from all activities which are not in accordance with international law. We reiterate our concern over the severe economic and humanitarian situation in the Palestinian Territories and call on Israel to resume the transfer of the withheld Palestinian tax and customs revenues. We also call for the release of elected members of the Palestinian Government and legislature by Israel.

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Statement by the Quartet after a conference call
15 June 2007

After a conference call on 15 June 2007, the Quartet issued the following statement:

Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Javier Solana, Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner on their 15 June telephone call:

In a telephone call on 15 June, the Quartet principals shared their deep concern over the welfare and security of all Palestinians – especially those in Gaza, whose lives have been most seriously affected by the ongoing crisis.

The Quartet expressed its support for efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of Palestinians and called for respect for the human rights of all those in Gaza and the safety and security of international workers. It called for an urgent end to the violence, and the cooperation of all parties to ensure appropriate security and access conditions for the passage of humanitarian goods and personnel both within the Gaza Strip and at key crossing points.

The Quartet expressed understanding and support for President Abbas' decisions to dissolve the Cabinet and declare an emergency, given the grave circumstances. The Quartet recognized the necessity and legitimacy of these decisions, taken under Palestinian law, and welcomed President Abbas' stated intention to consult the Palestinian people at the appropriate time.

The Quartet noted its continuing support for other legitimate Palestinian institutions.

The Quartet supports the efforts of responsible regional States to help calm the situation, and will continue to promote a negotiated, comprehensive, just and lasting Middle East peace in line with relevant Security Council resolutions.


Statement by the Quartet on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Lisbon, 20 July 2007
On 20 July 2007, the Quartet issued the following statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:


The Quartet principals – Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Javier Solana, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal Luis Amado and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner – met today in Portugal to discuss the situation in the Middle East. They were joined by Quartet Representative Tony Blair.

The Quartet reaffirmed its commitment to bring about an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to work to lay the foundation for the establishment of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living side by side with Israel in peace and security, as a step towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, consistent with the road map and United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The Quartet welcomed the statement by President [George W.] Bush on 16 July renewing United States commitment to a negotiated two-State solution and supported President Bush’s call for an international meeting in the fall. The Quartet looks forward to consultations as the meeting is prepared. The Quartet agreed that such a meeting should provide diplomatic support for the parties in their bilateral discussions and negotiations in order to move forward on a successful path to a Palestinian State.

The Quartet welcomed the agreement by Tony Blair to be the Quartet Representative and discussed with him the urgent work that lies ahead. Noting the centrality of reform, economic development and institutional capacity-building to the establishment of a stable and prosperous Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza, that will unite all Palestinians and live in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours, the Quartet urged the parties and all States in the region to work closely with Mr. Blair, and encouraged robust international support for his efforts, including the convening of an ad hoc liaison committee meeting in the fall.

The Quartet expressed support for the Palestinian Authority Government headed by Salam Fayyad, which is committed to the political platform of President [Mahmoud] Abbas that reflects the 30 January 2006 Quartet principles. The Quartet encouraged direct and rapid financial assistance and other aid to the Palestinian Authority Government to help reform, preserve and strengthen vital Palestinian institutions and infrastructure, and to support the rule of law.

The Quartet welcomed the resumption of bilateral talks between Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert and President Abbas, and expressed support for steps taken by the Israeli Government, including the resumption of tax and customs revenue transfers and the decision to release Palestinian prisoners. The Quartet encouraged continued bilateral dialogue and further cooperation, including on the political horizon, as the necessary framework to move forward. It urged both parties to work without delay to fulfil their previous commitments and to build confidence.

Recognizing the continuing importance of the Arab Peace Initiative, the Quartet looked forward to the planned visit to Israel by representatives of the League of Arab States to discuss the Initiative. The Quartet expressed support for continued and expanded dialogue between Israel and the Arab States. It looked forward to an early meeting with the Arab States to follow up on their May meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Quartet emphasized the need to find ways to sustain Palestinian economic activity and the importance of creating circumstances that would allow for full implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access, particularly in view of the impact of crossings on the Palestinian economy and daily life. The Quartet encouraged both parties to address their road map obligations, including an end to settlement expansion and the removal of unauthorized outposts, and an end to violence and terror. The Quartet expressed its deep concern over the humanitarian conditions in Gaza, and agreed on the importance of continued emergency and humanitarian assistance.

The Quartet agreed to continue to consult regularly on developments, and to meet again in September to take stock of developments, hear from Mr. Blair on his strategy for the economic and institutional agenda, and discuss the way ahead.


Excerpts from the joint statement by Egypt, Jordan, and the United States
at the meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Gulf Cooperation Council
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, 31 July 2007
Following are excerpts of the joint statement by Egypt, Jordan and the United States at the conclusion of the meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Gulf Cooperation Council, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 31 July 2007:

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The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Jordan, and the United States met today in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to consult as partners and friends and to coordinate their efforts to promote regional peace and security. The participants reaffirmed their shared vision of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Middle East and their commitment to work together to achieve this common goal. This meeting follows the meetings previously held in New York, Cairo, at the Dead Sea and in Kuwait city.

The participants emphasized the importance of dialogue and diplomacy and affirmed that disputes among states should be settled peacefully and in a manner consistent with international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, and that relations among all countries should be based on mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, and on the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other nations. The participants expressed their steadfast support to any Gulf States in facing external threats to its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Agreeing that the peace and security of the Gulf region are critical to the health of the global economy and international stability and the need to continue the stability of the Gulf as a vital national interest for all, the participants resolved to continue their longstanding cooperation against such threats.

Agreeing on the importance of a just, comprehensive peace to the prosperity, stability and security of the Middle East, the Foreign Ministers reiterated their commitment to the two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and noted that the foundation for such an outcome includes Security Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), and 1515 (2003), and the Arab Peace Initiative, to end the occupation since 1967 and establish a Palestinian State that is viable and contiguous and living in peace and security with all its neighbours. They also emphasized the work of the Quartet in this context.

The participants expressed deep concern about the humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza, and affirmed the necessity of continuing assistance and support to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of President Abbas and his Government. Participants denounced all acts of violence and called for law and order under the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza.

The participants urged Israel and the Palestinians to meet all previous commitments. They undertook to support efforts to create an environment conducive to progress on the bilateral tracks for a just and comprehensive settlement and in that context welcomed the joint visit by the Egyptian and Jordanian Foreign Ministers to Israel on 25 July 2007, to discuss the Arab Peace Initiative as mandated by the Arab League’s Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee.

The participants welcomed the commitment expressed by US President George W. Bush in his 16 July 2007 speech to strengthen political and diplomatic efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian State, and promised to support efforts to this end.
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The participants reiterated their condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, resolved to maintain a united front against the terrorist elements that have targeted the Middle East and threaten the States and peoples of the region, and reaffirmed the Security Council’s declaration on the global effort to combat terrorism, adopted by resolution 1377 (2001), including its “unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of all their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations, whenever and by whomever committed.” The ministers also endorsed the March 2007 Riyadh Declaration’s call to “promote the culture of moderation, tolerance, dialogue, and openness, and reject all forms of terrorism, fanaticism, and extremism, as well as all forms of exclusionist racism, the campaigns of hatred and distortion, and attempts to cast doubt on our humanitarian values or harm the religious beliefs and sacred places, and warn against the use of sectarianism for political ends with the aim of dividing the nation, driving a wedge between its States and peoples, and igniting destructive civil strife and conflicts in them”.

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Statement by the Quartet on the situation in the Middle East
23 September 2007
On 23 September 2007, the Quartet issued the following statement after a meeting in New York on 23 September 2007:

The Quartet principals – Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Javier Solana, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal Luis Amado and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner – met today in Portugal to discuss the situation in the Middle East. They were joined by Quartet Representative Tony Blair.

The Quartet recognized the present opportunity for progress and the robust regional and international desire for peace in the Middle East. The Quartet expressed its strong support for the ongoing bilateral talks between Prime Minister [Ehud] Olmert and President [Mahmoud] Abbas, and welcomed the formation of Israeli and Palestinian teams to discuss the core issues that are essential to progress towards their shared goal of a negotiated two-State solution and establishment of a viable Palestinian State living side by side with a secure Israel. The Quartet welcomed parallel steps taken by the parties to build confidence and improve conditions on the ground. The Quartet underscored the need for immediate additional steps to meet previous commitments, including those under the Road Map and the Agreement on Movement and Access, so as to create a positive atmosphere conducive to progress towards a two-State solution.

The Quartet expressed support for the international meeting on Israeli-Palestinian peace called for by President [George W.] Bush in his 16 July statement. The principals discussed the meeting and agreed that it should be substantive and serious, providing support to the parties in their bilateral discussions and negotiations in order to move forward urgently on a successful path to a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza that will unite all Palestinians. The goal of this meeting is to bring together key members of the international community in support of efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians to end their conflict and help bring a final peace in the Middle East. The Quartet expects the meeting to affirm its support for the two-State solution, based on a rejection of violence and its support for progress by the parties in their bilateral discussions. The meeting should also review progress that has been made towards building Palestinian institutions and discuss innovative and effective ways to support further Palestinian reform. The Quartet will work for a successful international meeting and for the implementation of its conclusions.

Quartet Representative Tony Blair briefed the Quartet on his meetings and discussions in the region, and discussed the way forward on the development of a functioning Palestinian economy and the institutions of governance that will form the foundation of a Palestinian State. The Quartet agreed that Mr. Blair should work closely with the Palestinian Authority Government in developing a multi-year agenda for institutional and economic development, and looked forward to strong technical and financial support from the international community in support of these efforts, beginning with the 24 September Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting. In that context, the Quartet called upon all countries that are able to contribute to urgently provide financial support to the Palestinian Authority. The Quartet endorsed an extension of the Temporary International Mechanism until 31 December 2007, and expressed its hope that, during this period, a mechanism would be established to facilitate the transition to direct international assistance to this Palestinian Authority Government.

The Quartet expressed concern over conditions in Gaza. It agreed on the importance of continued emergency and humanitarian assistance without obstruction. The Quartet called for the continued provision of essential services. It expressed its urgent concern over the continued closure of major crossing points given the impact on the Palestinian economy and daily life. The Quartet further noted its grave concern over the continued rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, and recent efforts by Hamas to stifle freedom of speech and the press.

The Quartet discussed its forthcoming meeting with members of the Arab League follow-up committee to consult on next steps on the Arab Peace Initiative and regional support for bilateral talks between the parties.

The Quartet reaffirmed its commitment to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973).


Conclusions by the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the European Union
on the Middle East Peace Process
Luxembourg, 17 October 2007

On 17 October 2007, in Luxembourg, the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the European Union reached the following conclusions on the Middle East peace process:

"1. The Council warmly welcomes the present opportunity for progress on Israel-Palestinian peace. It commends the efforts of Palestinian President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and encourages them to take courageous steps in their political dialogue. This dialogue must achieve concrete results, leading to meaningful final status negotiations and to their shared goal of a two-State solution with the establishment of a independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours.

2. The Council expresses its full support to the upcoming international meeting as set out in the Quartet statement of 23 September 2007. The Council expects this meeting to provide support to the parties in their bilateral discussions and negotiations in order to move forward urgently on a successful path to a Palestinian State in the West Bank and Gaza that will unite all Palestinians. It is a crucial opportunity for regional and international partners to effectively support a comprehensive Middle East peace process. It emphasizes the leading role of the Quartet in the preparation of the meeting and the implementation of its conclusions. Broad and constructive involvement by Arab States will be crucial. In this context, the EU supports the action taken forward on the Arab Peace Initiative. The Council invites the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in full association with the Commission, to examine and, where necessary, re-focus EU activities with a view to developing an EU action plan in order to further support the parties in their ongoing negotiations and the subsequent implementation period.

3. In order to consolidate the progress achieved so far and to fulfil the potential of the current process, the Council calls upon the parties to desist from any actions that threaten the viability of a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement, in conformity with international law. Progress in negotiations, enhanced cooperation on the ground and building Palestinian institutions should be concurrent and mutually-reinforcing processes and lead to improvements in the day to day life of the Palestinian population. The EU urges the parties to take additional steps to meet previous commitments, including those under the road map and the Agreement on Movement and Access.

4. The Council reiterates its full support to President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. The Council endorses the extension of the Temporary International Mechanism until 31 December 2007 and stands ready to maintain its high levels of economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians and stresses that for this assistance to be effective in promoting economic development, it should accompany a credible political process. The EU reiterates the Quartet’s call upon all countries able to do so to urgently provide financial support to the Palestinian Authority and undertakes to work with partners to facilitate the transition to direct international assistance as soon as possible. The Council underlines the importance of the donors’ meeting in December and welcomes the offer of France to host it.

5. The Council supports the work of Quartet Representative Tony Blair in developing, with the Palestinian Authority Government, a multi-year agenda to strengthen institutions, help to create a climate of law and order and promote economic development, and looks forward to his next progress report.

6. The re-engagement and expansion of the European Union Co-ordinating Office for Palestinian Policy Support (EUPOLCOPPS) is an important element in the improvement of security. To this end the Council expects Israel to provide accreditation to the mission without further delay.

7. The Council reiterates its grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza. It underlines the importance of uninterrupted emergency and humanitarian assistance without obstruction and calls for the continued provision of essential services. The Council reiterates its call on all parties to work urgently for the opening of the crossings in and out of Gaza for both humanitarian reasons and commercial flows. This is essential to ensure the viability of the Palestinian economy and to improve living conditions for the Palestinian people."


Statement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the Annapolis Conference
Annapolis, Maryland, 27 November 2007

On 27 November 2007 Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivered the following statement at the Annapolis Conference, held in Annapolis, Maryland, on 27 November 2007:

Allow me, Mr. President, to thank you in my capacity as Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole representative of the Palestinian people, and on behalf of the Palestinian people, for inviting us to this international conference. This conference symbolizes the crystallization of the entire world’s will in its march towards achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace in our region and in bringing long-anticipated justice to our country where oppression, wars, occupation and violence have prevailed in the previous decades.

Today, Your Excellency, you stress the need to make the most difficult choice – the choice of making peace and ending a dark era marked by hatred. It is an era for which the peoples of the region have paid a dear price with the lives of its youth, the future of subsequent generations and the prosperity, advancement and liberty of millions of us all.
Therefore, I thank you, Mr. President. By calling this historic conference, you have sent a very clear and strong message to the peoples of the entire Middle East, who now watch with great hope as well as tremendous fear of losing yet another opportunity. The intent of your letter of invitation is not obscure: It expresses your personal commitment and the commitment of your great nation to attaching the highest priority to negotiations to achieve a long-awaited peace between both Palestinians and Israelis and the broader Arab world and Israel. We hope that this will be the culmination of your legacy for the world – a world freer of violence, persecution and fanaticism.

I must commend you, Your Excellency, on choosing this gorgeous city of Annapolis as the site for the conference. In addition to its beauty, Annapolis symbolizes liberty, the most exalted value of all. Freedom, for Palestinians, is perhaps the most evocative word – the word that captures the collective hope of Palestinians and their aspiration for future generations. It is their sun and the light of their future. It is the last word of their martyrs and victims and the daily hymns of their prisoners.

I would also like to express my deep gratitude to Secretary Rice and her team. Without their persistence and perseverance – and without their ability to grasp all aspects of the conflict in our region – we would not have been able to gather here today. Secretary Rice took important strides in her quest to emphasize that the path to peace through negotiations is the only path—and that this path is irreversible.

I must also stress that the exceptionally broad participation of our brothers and sisters from Arab and Islamic countries, the Quartet, the G8 and the Member States of the United Nations, in addition to many European and Asian countries, as well as members from the Non-Alliance [Non-Aligned?] bloc and the African continent, in a conference unique in the conflict’s history is a driving force that helps imbue the conference with added legitimacy. This broad participation also demonstrates strong support for Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to persevere in their quest to reach the two-State solution, which is based on ending the occupation and establishing a sovereign State of Palestine, living side by side with the State of Israel, by resolving all of the permanent status issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the broader Arab-Israeli conflict, which will prove indispensable to forging peaceful and normal relations in the region. I am proud of this broad Arab and Muslim contribution and the broad international participation because it shows the support of sister countries for the Palestinian people and their leadership to establish peace. Such support endorses our approach, which calls for an historic and balanced settlement that will ensure peace and security for our independent State, for Israel and for the entire region.

The Arab and Islamic presence also demonstrates that the Arab Peace Initiative was never a move without a definite goal but rather a courageous strategic choice aimed at changing the nature of relations in the region and beginning anew. This historic Arab and Islamic shift and quest for a regional peace should now be a similar willingness to engage by all as it will lead to ending the occupation in all the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, as well as the Golan Heights and parts of Lebanon and as it will also lead to resolving all the other permanent status issues. Chief among these is the plight of Palestinian refugees which must be addressed holistically that is, in its political, human, and individual dimensions in accordance with General Assembly resolution 194 (III), as emphasized in the Arab Peace Initiative, and with the participation of sister Arab countries who have borne the heavy burden of hosting the refugees for decades.

It is no exaggeration to say, Your Excellency, that today marks a juncture in the history of our region—a juncture between two eras: the pre-Annapolis era and its aftermath. In other words, the exceptional opportunity that the Arab, Islamic and international presence brings today, coupled with overwhelming Palestinian and Israeli public opinion in support of Annapolis, must be seized in order to be a launching pad for a negotiations process. The possibilities offered by today’s conference must not be wasted. This window of opportunity might never open again and if it does, it might never claim the same consensus or momentum.

Mr. President,

What we face today is not only the challenge of peace but also a test of the credibility of all involved: The credibility of the United States of America, members of the Quartet, the entire international community, Israel, the PLO and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), as well as the Arab and Islamic group. It is a test that will draw deep marks in the future of the region and the relations among its peoples on the one hand and on the international forces that care about the region’s peace and security on the other.

With this outlook, we come to Annapolis today. We therefore recognize the weight of responsibility upon our shoulders and the burden that we will have to bear. We recognize, and I believe that you share our opinion, that the absence of hope and the infiltration of desperation into the hearts of peoples is what feed extremism. It is therefore our joint duty to allow for real hope to thrive. This way, we hope that with your full support and involvement we might achieve a complete transformation and that a genuine peace can be achieved soon, before the end of your term, Mr. President.

Tomorrow, we embark on a serious and comprehensive negotiations process on all the permanent status issues including Jerusalem, refugees, borders, settlements, security and water, as well as others. We must support such negotiations with tangible and direct steps on the ground, which will be taken as proof of having embarked on an irreversible track towards a negotiated, comprehensive and full peace. Such steps must involve freezing all settlement activities including natural growth, reopening institutions in Jerusalem, removing settlement outposts, removing checkpoints, releasing prisoners and facilitating the mission of the Palestinian Authority in restoring law and order.

With all frankness and without any hesitation, I have to defend the right of my people to open their eyes to a new dawn free of occupation, settlements, apartheid walls, prisons full of prisoners, targeted assassinations, and the siege of checkpoints around villages and cities. I look forward, Your Excellency, to the day when our prisoners are free and to the day when they can assume their roles in supporting peace and building their homeland and State. It is also my duty to say that the destiny of Jerusalem is a key issue in any peace treaty we reach. We want East Jerusalem to be our capital – a capital where we will have open relations with West Jerusalem and where we will guarantee for believers of all religions the freedom to practice their rituals and to have access to the holy sites without discrimination and in accordance with international humanitarian law.

In this context, I would like to emphasize that we will continue to carry out our responsibilities in accordance with the road map in fighting lawlessness, violence and terrorism and in restoring law and order. The Government of the PA is working tirelessly in extremely difficult conditions to achieve this noble cause. We do this for our own people because we must, not because it is a political requirement imposed upon us in previous accords or the road map.

Our people clearly understand the difference between the threat posed by terrorism versus using terrorism as a pretext to maintain an intolerable situation. Our civil, security and economic institutions must be given the opportunity to function and this process must be sponsored by the international community until our Authority and Government are able to fully assume their responsibilities. I must also stress that our determination to end occupation stems from our vision that by doing so we destroy one of the most important excuses for terrorism in our region and in the world. I say this without undermining the necessity to fight terrorism regardless of time, conditions or source because it is a danger that threatens the future of all peoples and can doom civilization and destroy its accomplishments.

Here, I would like to praise Tony Blair for his distinctive and meticulous role in building Palestinian institutions and promoting major economic projects to improve the conditions of daily life and consequently prospects of peace. He is amazing in presenting creative ideas that contribute to inspire political movement and promote security. In this regard, the role of the European Union, Japan and our Arab brothers, who provide ongoing support for economic projects and institution- building, is also highly appreciated.

Mr. President,

I want to use this opportunity to speak to every mind, heart and conscience of every Israeli citizen, based on my full recognition that without undermining the importance of international and regional backing, the determining element for making peace and sustaining it are the public opinions in Palestine and in Israel and the commitment of their legitimate leaderships.

I would like to begin by saying that, in spite of our differences over some of the most difficult issues in the conflict, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has shown a desire for peace that I felt during our bilateral meetings. This desire for peace has genuinely contributed to our reaching this important step that we inaugurate today. Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to continue working closely with you until we are able to complete this historic long-awaited mission together. It is essential that each one of us uses his weight, experience and determination to overcome the difficulties that will face us and to bridge the gaps between our two positions so that we can achieve a resolution. This is how we will end occupation and long years of suffering for our refugees; this is how we will ensure neighbourly relations, economic cooperation and people-to-people relations, all of which are the strongest guarantees for a sustainable peace.

I would also like to speak to the citizens of Israel on this exceptional occasion to tell them: Our neighbours on this small piece of land, neither you nor we are begging for peace from one another. Peace is a common interest of yours and ours. Peace and freedom are our rights just as peace and security are your rights and ours.

It is time that the cycle of bloodshed, violence and occupation end. It is time to look into the future with confidence and hope. It is time for this aching land that is called the land of love and peace to live up to its name. Peace is not impossible if we have the will and the good intentions and when each side realizes its rights.

He who says that making peace between Palestinians and Israelis is impossible wants only to prolong the duration of conflict and to propel it into the abyss of the unknown. This unknown is unfortunately very known to us: it is more decades of bloodshed, after which we will not arrive to a solution different from what is offered today—the contours and the essence of which is known to each one of us. The continuation of the conflict might also lead to the death of the idea of peace in our minds, hearts and consciousness. Peace is possible. It requires, however, a common effort to achieve it and to sustain it. Today, we extend our hands to you as equals and the world is our witness and support. We must not lose this opportunity that might never be repeated. Let us make the peace of the brave and guard it for the sake of both our children and yours.

To our friends all over the world: members of the Quartet, participants in this conference and other countries and nations who are not present here today, who supported us in the past and who continue to be willing to help us, I would like to tell you that our people will not forget your support under the most difficult conditions. We are looking forward to your continued political presence with us after the conference is over to ensure the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations process achieves its goals. We hope that the work of this conference will be enhanced by the success of the Paris economic conference that will be held in a few weeks.

The continuation of the negotiations and their success is the real key to changing the face of the entire region.

The Almighty God says in the Holy Quran: O Ye who believe! Come all of you into peace and follow not the footsteps of the devil. He is an open enemy for you. (Al-Baqra 208)

And if they incline to peace, incline also to it, and trust in Allah. He is the hearer, the knower. (Al-Anfal 61)

I also would like to recall what President John F. Kennedy said: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.”

To my Palestinian people, to all Palestinians in Gaza, Jerusalem, the West Bank and the refugee camps in the diaspora, I would like to share these words with you: I recognize that each and every one of you has their personal pain and special tragedy stemming from this conflict and years of Nakba and bitter occupation. Do not lose confidence or hope. The entire world is extending their hands to us to help end the years of our everlasting Nakba. The world is trying to help us end the historic injustice that was inflicted on our two peoples. We will be ready as individuals and as a people to overcome the pain and tragedy when we reach a settlement that will give us rights that are equal to people elsewhere on this world: the rights to independence and self-determination.

And to Palestinian mothers who are awaiting the return of their jailed sons; to the children who are dreaming of a new life and a prosperous and more peaceful future; to our brave prisoners and to all of my sons and daughters wherever you are: Have faith in tomorrow and the future because an independent Palestine is coming. This is the promise of the entire world to you today. Trust that the dawn is coming.

To my people and family in the Gaza Strip: You are in my heart and the hours of darkness will vanish before your determination does and our determination to the unity of our people in the West Bank and Gaza as a unified and unbreakable geographic and political entity will overcome. Your suffering will end. Justice and peace will prevail.

Mr. President,

I would like to end with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln, which he wrote during one of the most difficult moments in American history: “Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to do all that we may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Thank you, Mr. President, and peace and blessings of God be upon you.


Annapolis Conference joint understanding and statements
Joint Understanding on Negotiations
27 November 2007
At the conclusion of the Annapolis Conference, United States President George W. Bush read a statement of joint understanding by Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert and President Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the text of which are as follows:

The representatives of the Government of the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), represented respectively by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas, in his capacity as Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and President of the Palestinian Authority, have convened in Annapolis, Maryland, under the auspices of President George W. Bush of the United States of America, and with the support of the participants of this international conference, having concluded the following Joint Understanding:

We express our determination to bring an end to bloodshed, suffering and decades of conflict between our peoples, to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition, to propagate a culture of peace and non-violence, and to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis. In furtherance of the goal of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, we agree to immediately launch good faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues, without exception, as specified in previous agreements.

We agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations, and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008. For this purpose, a steering committee, led jointly by the head of the delegation of each party, will meet continuously, as agreed. The steering committee will develop a joint work plan and establish and oversee the work of negotiations teams to address all issues, to be headed by one lead representative from each party. The first session of the steering committee will be held on 12 December 2007.

President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert will continue to meet on a biweekly basis to follow up the negotiations in order to offer all necessary assistance for their advancement. The parties also commit to immediately implement their respective obligations under the performance-based road map to a permanent two-State solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, issued by the Quartet on 30 April 2003–this is called the road map–and agree to form an American, Palestinian and Israeli mechanism, led by the United States, to follow up on the implementation of the road map.

The parties further commit to continue the implementation of the ongoing obligations of the road map until they reach a peace treaty. The United States will monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitments of both sides of the road map. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, implementation of the future peace treaty will be subject to the implementation of the road map, as judged by the United States.


“Building a Palestinian State” – Executive Summary
Paris Donors’ Conference
Paris, 17 December 2007

At the Paris Donors’ Conference to support the Palestinian Authority, held on 17 December 2007, the Palestinian National Authority presented its macro-economic and fiscal agenda in a document entitled “Building a Palestinian State”. The executive summary is reproduced below:

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Executive Summary

This document lays out our vision of an independent Palestinian State. It highlights steps we have already taken to restore good governance and the rule of law to the West Bank – steps we believe demonstrate our commitment to realizing this vision and steps we aspire to replicate in Gaza. Whilst the stalled peace process and the tightening grip of the occupation have played a powerful role in shaping events, we acknowledge we have given insufficient attention to shortcomings in governance, law and order and basic service delivery. We are now absolutely determined to rebuild the trust of our citizens and our international partners in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) by embarking on a challenging reform and development agenda for stabilization and recovery.

We are not complacent about the scale of the task ahead. Progress must be made to upgrade all Palestinian institutions of government. We intend to create a secure and stable internal environment in which social and economic development can take place, and in which the institutional infrastructure of a Palestinian State can develop and thrive. This must go hand in hand with sustained and serious political dialogue, and concrete steps and commitments by all parties towards a lasting peace. We are committed to bringing safety and security to the West Bank and Gaza. Our immediate goal is to return to the status quo ante before the escalation of conflict in September 2000 by resuming full security control in Area A. Our ultimate goal is to assume full authority and responsibility for security within and at the borders of the future Palestinian State.

Reform and development in Gaza is an integral part of our plan for bringing stability and prosperity for all Palestinians in the occupied territory. We are committed to restoring the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights in Gaza. The illegal seizure of Gaza by Hamas has precipitated its almost complete closure. Israeli restrictions on the entry of all-but-humanitarian goods and on the export of goods have led to collapse of the private sector, which represents more than half the job market in Gaza.

We are committed to doing everything in our power to end the closure and isolation of Gaza and reversing its suffocating effect on society and the private sector. If the isolation of Gaza continues, we will work to maintain the supply of humanitarian assistance, the continued payment of public sector salaries and social transfers, and the provision of critical basic services – including electricity, water and sanitation, and health and education. We will continue to work closely with UNRWA, other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, providing relief to both refugee and non-refugee Palestinians in Gaza, to ensure that these needs are met.

Throughout the post-Oslo period, the unstable political environment has undermined our capacity to develop and sustain effective Government institutions and policies. The embargo on international assistance in 2006 and early 2007 contributed to the reversal of progress that had been made in reforming the PNA. The ensuing fiscal crisis shattered our citizens’ and public servants’ confidence in the PNA. This document sets out our broad priorities for improving governance in this challenging context. It sets out how we will reform the security sector and re-establish the rule of law, improve access to justice, move toward a more fiscally sustainable position, improve our management of public finances, strengthen the capacity of the public sector, and improve local governance. We acknowledge that we have more work to do in defining and calculating the cost of some of these reforms but this will be tackled in early 2008.

The Palestinian private sector must be the engine of sustainable economic growth. It needs to generate productive employment, produce high value-added goods and services, and to enhance national prosperity. We are committed to creating an enabling environment for private sector growth. However, whilst the private sector has shown resilience in the face of harsh political and economic conditions, its full potential can only be realized by the lifting of restrictions on the movement of Palestinian goods and people, and, more generally, meaningful progress towards peace. Such progress, coupled with substantial donor investment in institutional reforms and rehabilitation of infrastructure, can put the private sector, and the Palestinian economy as a whole, on a path to sustainable growth. We hope that the “Quick Impact Projects” jointly announced with the Quartet Representative and Israel represent an opportunity to demonstrate the preparedness of Israel and the international community to act in parallel with us to improve the situation on the ground and to take immediate, tangible steps towards ending the occupation. Each of these projects provides for joint action and cooperation amongst the parties and, as such, represents an opportunity to manage the risks of faltering commitment to the success of our reform and development plan.

We will safeguard the welfare of vulnerable groups while pursuing a private sector-led approach to economic growth. We intend to invest in social development and to continue to build effective mechanisms for social assistance and protection. For example, one third of the resources pledged in the form of budget support will finance teachers’ salaries and associated running costs. One fifth of donors’ pledges for public investment will be dedicated to education. With the support of the international community we believe we can modernize the education system – including the curriculum – and better prepare our young people for a better future.

We are aware that the PNA’s fiscal policy has been problematic in the past and that we must act fast to avert a fiscal crisis. We have embarked on a series of fiscal reforms to put ourselves on a path to financial stability – a path that will create space for increasing capital investment and development expenditure. We anticipate that these reforms will help us reduce the current budget deficit by 11.3 per cent of GDP over the next three years, returning it to the 2005 level. Our macroeconomic and fiscal forecasts assume modest improvements in the political and security environment, yielding a gradual reduction in movement and access restrictions, and a gradual increase in trade and private sector confidence. This is our baseline scenario. If a combination of political progress and an improved security environment accelerates the lifting of the occupation regime beyond current expectations, the level of public investment and private sector activity could increase more significantly. However, if the occupation regime remains unchanged, the economic outlook is extremely poor. It would make it very difficult to increase public investment and to finance a substantive reconstruction effort. Any reluctance on the donor side to finance the budget deficit would lead to a deepening fiscal crisis that would almost certainly take the PNA to the point of financial and institutional collapse. It would also lead to rising unemployment, increasing poverty, declining health and education indicators, and further, perhaps irreversible, degradation of the private sector.

Our forecasts are based on the assumption that donors will provide substantial levels of predictable aid over the next three years to support the recurrent budget and public investment program. In 2008, we need $1.361 million to finance our recurrent costs and $427 million to finance development investment. These amounts are large but they are, we believe, the minimum we need to implement our reform and development plan and begin serious preparations for statehood. We appeal to donors to provide this assistance as direct, un-earmarked budget support through the single treasury account. This will give us control over the targeting and timing of disbursements and enable us to execute our reform and development plan more effectively. If this is not possible, we favor the use of an unearmarked, multi-donor trust fund mechanism. If this too is not possible, in recognition of the constraints under which our international partners operate, we would accept alternative funding mechanisms that meet reasonable standards of efficiency, effectiveness and transparency. Where technical assistance is required we favor the use of sector or sub-sector multi-donor pooled funds.

We are committed to a clear vision: creating a viable, peaceful, and prosperous Palestinian State. The reform and development agenda is ambitious but it is necessarily so. We need the international community to help us make this vision a reality by providing the necessary financial assistance. Also, we can only attain this vision if there is tangible progress towards peace and statehood. Most immediately and most importantly, we need Israel to demonstrate commitment to ending the occupation and to the implementation of the two-State solution. This must include tangible and immediate action on the ground in the spirit of the joint understanding reached at Annapolis – including halting the expansion of settlements, cessation of construction of the separation wall, lifting physical and administrative restrictions on movement and access, releasing prisoners and ending military incursions. Without this our plan cannot be implemented in full and the support of the international community will not be as fruitful as we hope. If, however, these steps are taken we can start to turn our vision into a reality.
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