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3 October 2005
THE EUROPEAN UNION
GENERAL AFFAIRS AND EXTERNAL RELATIONS COUNCIL MEETING
Brussels, 18 July 2005
Council Conclusions on Middle East peace process
The Council adopted the following conclusions:
"1. The Council welcomed the successful conclusion of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank. It commended Israel’s armed forces and police for the smooth and professional way in which settlers were evacuated and the Palestinian Authority and people for maintaining a peaceful environment during the evacuation.
2. The Council welcomed the Quartet meeting in New York on 20 September, and fully endorsed the statement made by the Quartet at that meeting.
3. The Council welcomed disengagement as a significant step towards implementing the Roadmap. It praised the positive steps on both sides but emphasised that more remains to be done. It called for renewed action in parallel by both parties to fulfil their obligations under the Roadmap, and commitments made at Sharm el Sheikh. The Council urged contacts and co-ordination between the parties to be intensified at all levels.
4. The Council expressed its concern at the renewed violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories. The Council condemned the violence perpetrated by Palestinian militants and encouraged the Palestinian Authority to continue to take firm action against those responsible and to take all necessary steps to take full control of security in the Gaza Strip. The Council emphasised that terrorist attacks damage the interests of the Palestinians and that they have dire humanitarian consequences. While recognising Israel's right to protect its citizens against terrorist attacks, the Council called on Israel to act with restraint and to refrain from all extra-judicial killings, which are contrary to international law.
5. The Council emphasised the importance of Palestinian security sector reform and of the co-ordination of international efforts in this regard. It urged the Palestinian Authority to take sustained action against individuals involved in terrorism and terrorist groups. The Council emphasised the EU’s commitment to continued and enhanced support to Palestinian civil policing through the EU Co-ordination Office for Palestinian Police Support. The Council welcomed the agreement between Israel and Egypt on security arrangements along the Gaza/Egypt border.
6. The Council expressed its grave concern about the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the continuing construction of the separation barrier in occupied Palestinian territory. These activities form an obstacle to peace and threaten to make any solution based on the coexistence of two states physically impossible. The Council urged Israel to stop settlement expansion and to remove unauthorised outposts. The Council reiterated that, while recognising Israel’s right to protect its citizens, the construction of the separation barrier in the occupied Palestinian territory is contrary to international law. The Council remained particularly concerned by the settlement building and the construction of the separation barrier in and around East Jerusalem, which is having a detrimental effect on the lives of Palestinians and jeopardises a final status agreement on Jerusalem.
7. The EU stands ready to help the Quartet Special Envoy for disengagement, James Wolfensohn, resolve outstanding issues on disengagement, particularly concerning the economic viability of Gaza and confidence-building at Gaza's southern border. The Council emphasised the importance of reaching an agreement on access to Gaza for people and goods through land borders, a port and airport. The Council welcomed the Commission’s recently announced package for increased support for infrastructure and for the Palestinian economy. The Council further welcomed the Commission’s intention to submit proposals on EU/Palestinian co-operation beyond disengagement, focussing on institution-building and economic recovery, including support to the private sector, in particular SMEs. The Council underlined the importance of the whole international community playing a part in supporting the Palestinian Authority in taking effective control of Gaza and facilitating sustainable growth."