Question of Palestine home
"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
3 July 2008
THE EUROPEAN UNION
Brussels, 3 July 2008
Summary of remarks by
EU High Representative for the CFSP,
at the European Socialist Party Conference on the Middle East
at the European Parliament
Brussels, 2 July 2008
Javier SOLANA, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), today participated in the European Socialist Party Conference on the Middle East at the European Parliament. The High Representative strongly condemned the morning's events in Jerusalem which took place just prior to the conference. He expressed the hope that the events will not undermine the truce in Gaza and the efforts deployed in the current negotiations.
The following is an edited summary of Mr SOLANA's remarks at the conference.
"First of all, I would like to thank the Parliamentary Group of the Socialist Party for convening this conference, which is very timely. And let me also welcome two people in particular: Ami Ayalon, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office in the Government of Israel, and Ahmed Soboh, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Palestinian Authority. They are both good friends, we have spent many hours together, and it is good that they return. When they are called to come here and discuss important issues, they never miss the opportunity.
Let us see if today we do what we have to do: converge and translate our words into constructive action in order to get peace in reality. This meeting takes place a few days after a very important conference that took place in Berlin on Palestinian civil security and rule of law, which proves our engagement to tackle the difficult problems related to the two-state solution. This requires the creation of a Palestinian state, and for this we need to do our utmost to help the Palestinians on nation building. I think the meeting in Berlin was very important from that point of view, because it brought together the co-operation, the pledge and the co-ordination among different actors to get help.
Today's meeting also takes place at a very important moment: Six months have passed since Annapolis, and with them half of the time we have set ourselves to see the finalisation of an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
I would like to spell some of the most important points of the current state of the situation.
First: The bilateral negotiations continue in a discrete manner. We don't know exactly what are the achievements of this bilateral track, but we sense some progress. I don't think we have to be too optimistic, but we have in front of us some space and time to translate the agreement into reality. I think the EU has to continue accompanying this problem in the manner it has done so far: politically, economically and supporting institution building. And we have to recognise we have accompanied the process with a tremendous amount of energy and friendship.
Second: At this point in time, we have a problem of leadership in Israel and we may be in a more difficult political situation by the end of September. We have to be aware of this issue and see how we can deal with that.
Third: I would like to say very clearly that the realities on the ground have to change. I don't think they have changed sufficiently during this recent period of time. On access and movement much more has to be done to allow the life of Palestinian people to be better. Let me also say very clearly that the settlements have to stop. And I think it will be impossible, or very difficult at least, to have successful negotiations on a "final status", while the "final status" is being changed prior to the negotiations through the changes on the ground.
Fourth: about the present situation in Gaza. It is still very difficult but something may be moving. I would like to thank the efforts of Egypt, the Arab League and other countries that are contributing to an intra-Palestinian reconciliation. That will not be done in 24 hours, but it is very important and we have to do our utmost in that direction.
Fifth: on the comprehensive character of the process. The Israeli-Palestinian track is fundamental, but it is not the only one. I am glad to see that at least proximity talks have taken place, under the auspices of Turkey, between Israel and Syria. This brings me also to the Lebanese track. The agreement in Doha has cleared the way for an agreement to elect a President and I hope the Government will be established soon. But at the same time I think the question of the Shab'a Farms has to be addressed and this is very important. The Secretary General of the U2 will make a report and I would like to see a constructive attitude by Israel and Syria following this. I think the Euromed Summit in Paris on July 13th may also bring the possibility to have meetings in different geometries and see how we can move this issue forward.
Regarding the calendar we have ahead of us: After the last meeting of the "Quartet" in Berlin on June 24th we have to move in action until the last part of September. By then we will also have an important event in 2ew York, the General Assembly, which will be an important moment to take stock and see how we can move towards the end of the year. And finally we also took the decision in the "Quartet" to have another meeting "Annapolis-type" in Moscow later on this year.
These are the challenges that we have in front of us and we will continue to be engaged as much as we can. But I would like very much that my two friends Ami Ayalo and Ahmed Soboh try to keep talking together and moving together. Time is short, let's use it properly. And be sure that what we can do from the EU and from this group of the European Parliament we will do."