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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: European Union
16 January 1998
Text of a European Commission Communication on the role of the European Union
in the Middle East peace process
Brussels, 16 January 1998


On 16 January 1998, in Brussels, the European Commission approved the following Communication to the Council of Ministers of the European Union and to the European Parliament on the role of the European Union in the Middle East peace process:

The role of the European Union in the Middle East peace process and its future assistance
¨ On the bilateral side, the Palestinians must be allowed to exercise their right to economic development. Obstacles to trade and economic activity must be removed (i.e. the series of measures put in practice by Israel to seal off Palestinian territories from the outside world usually known as closures). If the Israel-PLO Paris Economic Protocol is to subsist, then closures cannot continue. ¨ Furthermore, the Palestinians must have open trade access to the outside world including Israel. This must lead to a situation that will allow the full implementation of the EC-PLO Association Agreement. ¨ The European Union should be willing to help Israel remove the obstacles to either solution through the Israel-EU Joint Dialogue mechanism as stressed by the conclusions of the recent Luxembourg European Council. However, the current discussions and studies undertaken under this framework on Palestinian labour, passage of goods and people, fiscal and financial issues, Gaza airport and harbour and medium and long-term economic potential, cannot continue without any tangible results. The Joint Dialogue needs to make rapid progress towards eliminating all obstacles to Palestinian economic development. Failing this, the Joint Dialogue would have to be re-evaluated. ¨ The European Union has reaffirmed its readiness to put all its political weight to the service of safeguarding the security of Israel. The security of the State of Israel and of its citizen is a central piece in the solution to the Middle East conflict. This is one of the reasons for the European Union's support to Palestinian economic development. Contrary to claims that Israel's security demands stiff restrictions on the Palestinian economy, Palestinian economic development will be Israel' s best security guarantee, both in the short and the long term. ¨ In the multilateral fora, the EU, as chair of the Regional Economic Development Working Group (REDWG), should come up with concrete initiatives to revive the process of regional economic integration as soon as progress on the bilateral tracks allows. Indeed, the stalemate in the Palestinian track has had a progressive paralysing effect on the Multilateral track. ¨ Coming to the regional dimension, and in particular the Barcelona process, a renewed EU effort to put an end to peace process contamination in the context of the development of the Euro Mediterranean goals is necessary. "Barcelona" represents a long-term strategy which is crucial to the future of both the EU and its Mediterranean partners. While it was born under a constructive phase of the peace process, its shared goals and the conditions that made it necessary are still there and are worth the effort in themselves. ¨ The idea launched in Malta of a mid-term review Ministerial Conference in 1998 must be given urgency so as to re-invigorate the process in order to prevent contamination by the peace process. 1. European Union Web site, via the Internet at <http://europa.eu.int/rapid/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc=IP/98/37|0|RAPID&lg=EN>

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