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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: European Union (EU)
24 July 2012




ELEVENTH MEETING OF
THE EU-ISRAEL ASSOCIATION COUNCIL

Statement of the European Union


1. The European Union (EU) warmly welcomes this 11th meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council as a demonstration of the significance the EU attaches to its relations with the State of Israel. The EU reiterates the importance of further developing our broad bilateral partnership and looks forward to a comprehensive dialogue and cooperation with our Israeli counterparts.

2. The EU takes note of the efforts of both parties to develop bilateral relations in the period since the previous meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council. These efforts were framed by the general EU position, as it was established on the occasion of the June 2009 Association Council, that the 2008 decision to upgrade our relations in the framework of the ENP clearly stemmed from common awareness of the traditional links, the cultural and human values, and the economic and security interests that the EU and Israel share. That upgrade must be based on the shared values of both parties, and particularly on democracy and respect for human rights, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, good governance and international humanitarian law. The upgrade needs also to be, and to be seen, in the context of the broad range of our common interests and objectives. These notably include the resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict through the implementation of the two-state solution, the promotion of peace, prosperity and stability in the Middle East and the search for joint answers to challenges which could threaten these goals. In addition, these efforts were a response to the commitment taken on the occasion of the February 2011 Association Council to further explore with Israel the opportunities still offered by the current EU-Israel ENP Action Plan in a number of sectors and policy areas, and to pursue technical talks in order to identify areas for future potential cooperation. On the basis of such guidance, the two parties held comprehensive discussions in 2011-2012, which were reflected in the Association Committee’s minutes and annexes attached to this statement. In this context:

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6. The EU reiterates its fundamental commitment to Israel’s security, including with regard to vital threats in the region, which is best guaranteed through peace between Israel and its neighbours. The EU is appalled by recurring rocket attacks from Gaza and condemns in the strongest terms violence deliberately targeting civilians. The EU reiterates its call on all partners in the region for the effective prevention of arms smuggling into Gaza.

7. The EU believes, as set out in the EU Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions of 14 May 2012 on the MEPP, that an urgent resumption of substantive negotiations is needed aiming at a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ending the conflict is a fundamental interest of the EU as well as of the parties themselves and the wider region, and it can be achieved through a comprehensive peace agreement, based on the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, the Madrid principles including land for peace, the Roadmap, the agreements previously reached by the parties and the Arab Peace Initiative. The EU recalls the applicability of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the applicability of the 4th Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians. The EU wants to see the State of Israel and a sovereign, independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine living side by side in peace and security. The legitimacy of the State of Israel and the right of Palestinians to achieve statehood must be fully respected. The EU calls on both parties to implement as soon as possible confidence-building measures so as to create an atmosphere conducive to the re-launching of peace efforts.

8. The EU considers it imperative that the viability of a two-state solution is maintained. The EU expresses deep concern about developments on the ground which threaten to make a two-state solution impossible, such as, inter alia, the marked acceleration of settlement construction, ongoing evictions of Palestinians and the demolition of their housing and infrastructure in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including East Jerusalem, the worsening living conditions of the Palestinian population and serious limitations for the Palestinian Authority to promote the economic development of Palestinian communities, in particular in Area C. The EU is also concerned about reports on a possible resumption of construction of the separation barrier because the EU considers that the separation barrier where built on occupied land is illegal under international law, constitutes an obstacle to peace and threatens to make a two-state solution impossible. Concerning these developments, the EU reiterates its determination to contribute to maintaining the viability of a two-state solution in accordance with international law and its positions, including the conclusions of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in December 2009, December 2010, May 2011 and May 2012. To that end, the EU will take steps to address the social and economic situation of the Palestinian population in Area C, will strengthen Palestinian planning capacities and, stressing Israel’s obligations regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian population in that area, will engage with the Israeli authorities to work out improved mechanisms for the implementation of donor funded projects in that area. In the same vein, the EU will continue to fully and effectively implement existing EU legislation and the bilateral arrangement applicable to settlement products.

9. The EU expresses deep concern regarding settler extremism and incitement by settlers in the West Bank. The EU condemns continuous settler violence and deliberate provocations against Palestinian civilians. It calls on the government of Israel to bring the perpetrators to justice and to comply with its obligations under international law.

10. The EU reiterates that a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. Until then, the EU calls for an equitable provision of resources and investment to the city’s population. The EU calls for the reopening of Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem in accordance with the Roadmap.

11. The EU calls on Israel to ensure the protection and unimpeded access of all religious groups to religious sites, notably in Jerusalem.

12. The EU remains concerned by the situation in the Gaza Strip. While fully recognizing Israel’s security needs, the EU reiterates its call for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza. The EU is also concerned about the humanitarian consequences of Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip. The situation in the Strip is unsustainable as long as it remains politically separated from the West Bank. Despite limited progress, the EU urges the government of Israel to take further meaningful and far-reaching steps allowing for the reconstruction and economic recovery of the Gaza Strip, including by allowing trade with the West Bank and Israel.

13. The EU has consistently called for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind President Mahmoud Abbas as an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and for reaching a two states solution. Reconciliation should also be in the long term interest of Israel by helping to engage all parties in a process leading to a sustainable peace agreement.

14. The EU commends the work of the Palestinian Authority in building the institutions of a future State of Palestine and reiterates its commitment to the Palestinian state building process, including through CSDP missions and within the Quartet, aiming at a Palestinian state based on the rule of law and respect of human rights. The EU underlines the risk of jeopardising the major achievements of the Palestinian Authority in state-building if the current financial difficulties are not addressed by a common effort of the Palestinian Authority, Israel and donors. Recalling the Palestinian institutions' responsibility under the Roadmap to end incitement, the EU expresses concern for incidents of incitement in Palestinian media and elsewhere.

15. The situation in the Arab countries, over a year after the start of political and social changes, is a source of both challenges and opportunities. Transitions will take time, and the possibility of new turbulences should not be excluded. The EU has reaffirmed its commitment to the emerging democracies, including through its response in the ENP framework providing assistance in building democratic institutions and supporting inclusive growth. The EU has publicly and repeatedly stressed the importance of engaging positively with the new emerging leaderships. Public opinion will play an increasing role in the foreign policy of South Mediterranean partners, which should mobilise renewed efforts towards solving long-standing conflicts. The fundamental changes in the Arab world highlight the need for progress on the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) and for overcoming the current stalemate, while respecting previous agreements and obligations.

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18. The EU reiterates continued commitment to Lebanon’s unity, stability, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU recalls the need for the full implementation of all relevant UNSC Resolutions, including 1559, 1680, 1701 and 1757. The EU stresses that it is the obligation of all parties concerned to ensure effective implementation of UNSC Resolution 1701. The EU supports and commends the crucial role of UNIFIL, whose activities alongside the Lebanese Armed Forces continue to be essential for peace in the region. The EU encourages Israel and Lebanon to find a peaceful solution to the disagreements over demarcation of their Exclusive Economic Zones in Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

19. The EU remains determined to work towards a negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, and urges Iran to comply fully and without further delay with its obligations under the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the IAEA. The EU calls for a constructive and responsible Iranian role in the region, notably in relation to the MEPP, including the acceptance of a solution based on two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Iran should end its support to violent groups in the region, use its influence constructively and encourage them to follow a non-violent political approach conducive to peace and stability for the region.

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22. The EU encourages Israel to increase efforts to address the economic and social situation of the Arab minority, to enhance their integration in Israeli society and protect their rights. While recognising the complexity of the situation, the EU underlines the importance to address it as a core problem in its own right, with efforts required from both the government of Israel and the Arab minority leadership, and emphasizes the need for Israel to seek comprehensive solutions to its many aspects while being guided by the commitment, as a democratic state, to ensure the equality of all its citizens. The EU also encourages Israel to seek equitable and sustainable solutions with regard to the unrecognised Bedouin villages in close consultation with the communities concerned.

23. The EU recalls that support for human rights defenders is a long established element of the European Union’s human rights external relations policy. The EU considers that in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory human rights defenders play an important role in promoting the common values of democracy, peace and human rights. The EU recalls the legitimate right of Palestinians to engage in peaceful demonstrations.

24. The EU remains concerned about the excessive recourse by Israel to administrative detention without charge. Under international law, detainees have the right to be informed about the reasons underlying any detention and to have the legality of their detention being determined without undue delay. The EU calls upon Israel to bring formal charges against individuals, with such charges being determined through fair trials. The EU welcomes the recent agreement reached on conditions of detention in Israeli prisons and urges both sides to abide by their undertakings.

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28. The EU recalls the commitment taken by Israel and the Palestinian Authority at the Trade Ministerial Conference of the Union for the Mediterranean of 11 November 2010. The EU encourages both parties to organise a trilateral ministerial meeting without delay with a view to discussing additional measures for the facilitation of Palestinian trade and the establishment of a trade trilateral working group.

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