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European Union (EU)
23 May 2005
European Ministers for Foreign Affairs discuss many aspects of the Middle East peace process
Date of release : 23-05-2005
General Affairs and External Relations
General Affairs and External Relations Council
At the 23 May 2005 meeting of the "General Affairs and External Relations" Council, the European Ministers for Foreign Affairs discussed the Middle East peace process. Jean Asselborn, current President of the Council of the EU, issued the following statement at the press conference:
"Unfortunately, the situation is still fragile as tensions are re-emerging in Gaza (Palestinian missiles being fired), and on the Israel-Lebanon border. In this context, it is all the more important that all the parties involved exercise restraint.
We also talked about the 9 May Quartet meeting in Moscow and the mission of Mr Wolfensohn, Special Quartet Envoy for disengagement. I think all of us agree on the fact that Mr. Wolfensohn’s mission can succeed only if the economic, security and political conditions are met. Cooperation between the two parties is absolutely essential in this respect.
The Palestinian legislative elections, scheduled for 17 July, were also evoked. At its 9 May meeting, the Quartet called on the Palestinian authority and Israel to immediately take the steps necessary to ensure freedom of movement for candidates and voters, especially in East Jerusalem. You know of course that the EU will dispatch an observer mission for these elections.
On the other hand, I would not want to omit our concerns in particular over Israel’s plans to link the colony of Maale Adumim (on the West Bank) with Jerusalem by building the separation barrier. We are now awaiting more clarification on the information that has been published in the media.
The European Union will also continue to closely monitor the implementation of the commitments made by the parties in Sharm el Sheikh. In this context, last Friday the Israeli press announced that Prime Minister Sharon approved the release of 400 more Palestinian prisoners and allowed the return to Gaza and the West Bank of Palestinians who had been deported to Europe after the siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2000. These are very encouraging gestures and we hope that the Israeli cabinet will confirm this decision at the end of the month."