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24 October 2013
Remarks by President of the European Council
Herman Van Rompuy
after the meeting with the Palestinian President
It is a pleasure to welcome President Abbas to the European Union this afternoon. His visit intervenes at a particularly crucial moment in the Middle East. The terrible conflict in Syria threatens the stability of neighbouring countries. An end must be put to violence and suffering. The EU is urging all sides of the conflict to respond positively to the call of the UN Secretary General for a peace conference in Geneva before the end of November. Only a political solution can end the terrible bloodshed and grave violations of human rights. The whole region must reach an understanding on its common future based on mutual respect, cooperation and peaceful exchanges.
There is no doubt that in such a context progress in the Middle East Peace Process - the establishment of a Palestinian State living side by side with Israel in peace and security - is more urgent than ever. Both Israel and Palestine can contribute significantly to reinforcing regional stability by solving their differences.
Delivering such a settlement is obviously the responsibility of the parties involved, but it also obliges the international community. Palestinian citizens and families must finally be given the right to live peacefully and prosper in a sovereign Palestinian State. Israeli citizens and families must have assurances that they will be able to develop their lives in security.
I therefore salute the courage of both President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu for renewing negotiations. The European Union fully supports this engagement. It is ready to assist in the process as much as required and contribute to the implementation of decisions.
The EU is well-aware of the challenges that Palestinian and Israeli leaders are facing. Some may think that precisely in times of uncertainty it is safer to revert to old formulas. They forget that not enough progress has been achieved throughout the years and that problems have grown in dimension and gravity. Today more than ever, vision and courage are required if we are to overcome the hurdles that have been blocking the path towards a just and lasting solution. The parameters are well-known and both sides will have to make concessions.
I am grateful to President Abbas for the rich exchange of views we have just had on these matters of key importance. I reiterated the European Union’s support to the Palestinian Authority, as the largest donor and key partner in its institution and State building efforts. I also assured him that the European Union will continue its strong support to the process of negotiations.
In closing, I wish to commend, once again President Abbas’ commitment and his untiring efforts to secure a future of peace and justice for the Palestinian people within a Palestinian State.