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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 December 2006





DEVELOPMENTS RELATED TO THE MIDDLE EAST
PEACE PROCESS

Issue 21 • January-December 2006


Excerpts of the speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
at the opening session of the Palestinian Legislative Council
Ramallah, 18 February 2006

Communiqué by Israel on the result of the Palestinian elections
19 February 2006

Press release issued by the Ministerial Council of the
Gulf Cooperation Council at its ninety-eighth session
Riyadh, 1 March 2006

Press release issued by the Quartet on the new Palestinian Government
30 March 2006

Press release issued by the European Council on suspension of aid
to the Palestinian Authority
Luxembourg, 10-11 April 2006

Press release issued by the Quartet expressing concern with
the Palestinian Government
9 May 2006

Excerpts of the International Crisis Group report entitled
“Palestinians, Israel and the Quartet: pulling back from the brink”
13 June 2006

Declaration by the EU Council endorsing the
Temporary International Mechanism
Brussels, 16 June 2006

Excerpts of the EU-US Vienna Summit Declaration on the
situation in the Middle East
Brussels, 21 June 2006

Statement by the G-8 leaders at the thirty-second summit on the
situation in the Middle East
St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, 16 July 2006

Statement by the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement
on the situation in the Middle East
19 July 2006

Summary by the Chair of the Stockholm International Donor Conference
on the Humanitarian Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Stockholm, 1 September 2006

Excerpts of the EU Council conclusions welcoming agreement on
Palestinian Unity Government
Brussels, 15 September 2006

Statement by Russian Federation Foreign Minister Lavrov at the
Security Council ministerial meeting on the Middle East
New York, 21 September 2006

Address by EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
Javier Solana to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee
Brussels, 4 October 2006

Israeli-Palestinian joint statement on the Geneva Initiative meeting
8 December 2006

Excerpts of the EU Council Presidency conclusions on the Middle East
Brussels, 15 December 2006

Three-point agreement between Hamas and Fatah proposed by the
Organization of the Islamic Conference
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 19 December 2006

Statement by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas following their meeting in Jerusalem
Jerusalem, 23 December 2006


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Fax: 212-963-4199



Excerpts of the speech by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
at the opening session of the Palestinian Legislative Council
Ramallah, 18 February 2006


On 18 February 2006, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas delivered a speech in Ramallah during the opening session of the second Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) following the January Palestinian elections. The following excerpts are from an unofficial translation of his speech:

/…

The results of our elections have led to the creation of a new political reality, in which Hamas won the majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Therefore, it will be tasked with the formation of the new Government. I expect the person forming the Government to be designated, and the usual consultations regarding this issue to start. All of this will be accompanied with the election of the PLC presiding body and the establishment of its various committees so as to be ready to receive the new Government and its programme, leading to granting it confidence.

/…

From my position as elected President of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and as President of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and based on my programme on which I was elected, I would like to emphasize the following:

First, we, as presidency and Government, will continue our commitment to the negotiation process as the sole political, pragmatic and strategic choice through which we reap the fruit of our struggle and sacrifices over the long decades. We will find practical opportunities as we wisely manage the negotiations so as to achieve our national aims that are supported by international resolutions.

As we depend on the negotiation process as a political choice, we should continue to develop other forms of peaceful popular struggle.

We are all required to continue activating and strengthening the role of the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of our people, to lead and oversee all matters relating to its destiny including the negotiations with the Israeli side.

Second, the obstruction of the negotiation process and its replacement with the iron fist policy, unilateral adventures and the continuation of the separation wall, settlement expansion and assassinations will only lead to further deterioration, leaving peace and stability behind.

Anybody who thinks that these kinds of policies would force our people to hoist the white flag and to give up is mistaken. He does not know the reality of this people, its faith, determination and perseverance towards obtaining its full rights.

Here, I would like to emphasize our full rejection of unilateralism. I urge the world, eager as it is to see peace and stability in the Middle East, and especially the Quartet and the US Administration, to immediately start serious efforts towards reactivating the negotiation process. This in turn should be conducted on the basis of international legitimacy and President Bush’s vision; the Arab Peace Initiative; and the agreements and understandings signed since Oslo to the Road Map.

Third, the internal changes – which occurred in the aftermath of the second PLC elections and which led to Hamas members having the majority in the PLC – should not be used to justify further aggression against our people, or as a pretext for blackmailing it. The Palestinian people should not be punished for its democratic choice that was expressed through the ballot box. The leadership of this people and I personally refuse this blackmail. I ask everyone to abandon it.

Fourth, the process of reform within the PNA should not stop. I will continue to sponsor all reform initiatives, whether carried out by the Palestinian judiciary, as an implementation of a decision from our part, or any new initiatives in the same direction. I am determined to carry out my programme, on which I was elected and mandated, and to apply the main tenets that I have hoisted to reach a stable, unified, strong, effective Authority that provides security and safety to all its citizens; an Authority which has the ability to keep its commitments and protect the interests of its people; an Authority that respects the law and commits to implementing it; an Authority whose institutions are committed to the separation of powers, particularly in terms of strengthening the judiciary, imposing the rule of law for all, with one legitimate arm, with a pluralistic system; an Authority that lays the foundations for the establishment of our independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital. We hope to see this State as a qualitative addition to the list of countries in the region; an addition that carries out its commitments in a credible manner and which enjoys its rights based on justice. We do not want more than what we are entitled to by international law.
/…
I would like to stress in particular that the era of unilateral solutions is over. Attempting to determine the future of our people through cantonization, reservations, the tearing up of the West Bank, land grab in the Jordan Valley, the separation of Jerusalem and the consolidation of settlement blocks will close the window for a solution between us.

There is a Palestinian partner who is ready to sit at the negotiation table with an Israeli partner so as to reach a solution that is based on international legitimacy, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Road Map – a solution that is based on respecting all previous agreements and commitments.

We want a just solution that guarantees the fulfilment of peace, not a unilateral, partial, or temporary solution that will kill the chance for peace, nor a State with provisional borders. We are waiting for the Israeli Government to determine its direction and make its decision in this regard. Our decision is to be completely ready to start permanent status negotiations immediately.

I assure the world that we strongly believe that justice prevails over force. We will have the same perseverance in attaining our rights and desire for peace. The entire world should bear its responsibility to make this dream come true… peace in the Holy Land…

/…


Communiqué by Israel on the result of the Palestinian elections
19 February 2006

Following the Palestinian elections, the Government of Israel decided to implement a series of measures vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority. The Israeli Cabinet’s announcement follows:

Upon the conclusion of the Palestinian Authority (PA) transitional Government, the PA will become a terrorist authority unless Hamas, which controls the PA, fully accepts the threshold conditions as determined by Israel and approved by the Quartet.

The Cabinet has decided to immediately implement series of measures vis-à-vis the PA.

1. Ministers were briefed on Palestinian affairs following the PA elections and determined policy in light of the swearing-in of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

Acting Prime Minister Olmert made the following remarks:


OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yedlin, Israel Security Agency Director Yuval Diskin, National Security Council Chairman Giora Eiland and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav briefed ministers on the results of the recent PA elections.

The Cabinet decided as follows:

It is decided that, upon the swearing-in of the Hamas-dominated PLC yesterday (Saturday, 18 February 2006) and upon the upcoming conclusion of the PA transitional Government, the PA will become a terrorist authority unless Hamas, which controls the PA, fully accepts the following threshold conditions as determined by Israel and approved by the Quartet:


A. Therefore, the Cabinet immediately decides – at this stage – to implement a series of measures vis-à-vis the PA:

i. Upon the conclusion of the transitional Government, no funds will be transferred from Israel to the PA;

ii. Israel will appeal to the international community so that, upon the formation of the transitional Government, the international community will refrain from all financial assistance to the PA except for humanitarian aid given directly to the Palestinian population;

iii. Transfers of means and assistance to the Palestinian security services will be prevented;

iv. The movement of VIPs connected to Hamas, including members of the PLC, will continue to be restricted in all areas under Israeli control;

v. Given the heightened security risks, security checks at crossings – especially Karni and Erez – will be increased, regarding both people and goods. Activities to upgrade the Gaza Strip crossings will continue in order to enable more effective security oversight.

B. All measures necessary to thwart acts of terrorism against Israel will continue both in Gaza, Judea and Samaria and in the Gaza Strip; construction of the security fence will be accelerated.

/…



Press release issued by the Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council
at its ninety-eighth session
Riyadh, 1 March 2006


After its meeting in Riyadh, the Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council issued a press release calling on the international community to respect the outcome of the Palestinian election. Excerpts of the press release are reproduced below.

Press release issued by the Quartet on the new Palestinian Government
30 March 2006

Following consultations, the Quartet issued the following press release on 30 March 2006 expressing “grave concern” that the new Palestinian Government had not committed to previous obligations or principles under the Road Map:


Press release issued by the European Council on suspension of aid
to the Palestinian Authority
Luxembourg, 10-11 April 2006


The European Council issued the following press release on the conclusions adopted at its meeting on aid to the Palestinian Authority following the formation of a new Government.
Press release issued by the Quartet expressing concern with the
Palestinian Government
9 May 2006

The following press release was issued on 9 May 2006 by the Quartet after a meeting held in New York with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdelelah al-Khatib and Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal:


Excerpts from the International Crisis Group report entitled “Palestinians,
Israel and the Quartet: pulling back from the brink”
Jerusalem/Amman/Brussels, 13 June 2006

On 13 June 2006, the International Crisis Group published its Middle East Report N° 54 entitled “Palestinians, Israel and the Quartet: pulling back from the brink”. The executive summary and the Group’s recommendations are reproduced below.

Executive summary

Throughout years of uprising and Israeli military actions, siege of West Bank cities and President Arafat’s de facto house arrest, it was hard to imagine the situation getting worse for Palestinians. It has. On all fronts – Palestinian/Palestinian, Palestinian/Israeli and Palestinian/international – prevailing dynamics are leading to a dangerous breakdown. Subjected to the cumulative effects of a military occupation in its 40th year and now what is effectively an international sanctions regime, the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (PA) Government cannot pay salaries or deliver basic services. Diplomacy is frozen, with scant prospect of thaw – and none at all of breakthrough. And Hamas’s electoral victory and the reactions it provoked among Fatah loyalists have intensified chaos and brought the nation near civil war. There is an urgent need for all relevant players to pragmatically reassess their positions, with the immediate objectives of:


Of all the dangers threatening the Palestinians, the most acute may well be internal strife. Facing one of the most hostile external environments in its history, the national movement also confronts one of its most acute domestic crises. Even as Hamas and Fatah leaders repeatedly profess their determination to avoid violent conflict, they act in ways that promote it. Fatah, unable to digest its electoral loss, is behaving as if still in power. It treats the new Government as a usurper, blatantly subverting its ability to govern, relying on its partisans’ overwhelming presence throughout the civil service and, especially, the security forces. Hamas, unprepared for its triumph, is behaving as if it remains in opposition. It invokes steadfastness as a substitute for policy and has proved incapable so far of adjusting to its new status, while introducing provocative measures of its own.

In this increasingly bloody power struggle, both camps (as well as the myriad camps within camps) are mobilizing armed militias, stockpiling weapons, resorting to killings and spreading bedlam. The latest move was political. Mahmoud Abbas, PA President, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee and Fatah Deputy Chairman, on 25 May 2006 threatened that if Hamas did not accept within 10 days a proposal signed by a number of Israel’s most prominent Palestinian detainees – the Prisoners’ Initiative – which implicitly endorses a negotiated two-State solution, he would submit it to a popular referendum. Making good on his ultimatum after a short extension, he issued a presidential decree on 10 June calling for a referendum on 26 July.

The result has been an increasingly bitter, and perilously violent, relationship, bringing the Palestinians to the brink of internecine conflict. The National Dialogue that was launched in late May to forge a political consensus appears to be as much about partisan posturing as about strategic compromise. While Abbas understandably is averse to interminable negotiations, his determination to hold a referendum opposed by Hamas carries a serious risk of further polarization and violence – the very outcome that, by seeking to bring the Islamists into the political arena, he had tried to avoid. Today, the situation is but one tragic step – the assassination of a senior Fatah or Hamas leader, for example – from all-out chaos.

Faced with the intensifying inter-Palestinian struggle, the calculus of the Quartet – the US, EU, Russian Federation and the UN, which have been in charge of the disappearing peace process – and other outside actors has been simple: pressure the Government, count on popular dissatisfaction with its (non-) performance and find ways to strengthen Abbas and ensure the Hamas experience in power comes to a rapid and unsuccessful end. The approach comes in different variants, from the more confrontational (seeking to subvert the Hamas-led Government through political and economic isolation), to the more subtle (hoping to circumvent the Government through Abbas’ empowerment). Yet in both cases outside actors, by openly bolstering one faction against the other, exacerbate internal strife.

Of late, limited signs of pragmatism have come from Washington regarding the need to prevent collapse within the occupied territories. However, the US still appears reluctant to endorse a European proposal to fund priority social sectors while bypassing the Government or at least wishes to postpone implementation of such a mechanism until after a referendum is held and the political context altered. The tightness of the grip aside, all, including Israel and even Arab States, appear convinced that squeezing the Government unless it meets the Quartet’s three demands (recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and acceptance of past agreements) is the best way to end its tenure and accelerate the restoration of its more pragmatic predecessors.

There are important elements of Hamas’s ideology and charter, including its refusal to recognize Israel and the call for its destruction, that are incompatible with the international community’s principles for a resolution of this conflict as well as the views of most Palestinians; pressure certainly needs to be brought upon it to change these. Without this necessary evolution, it cannot expect international recognition, nor can the Government it leads expect genuine international support. But the approaches currently being applied or contemplated – to deprive it of resources, isolate or bypass it, force a referendum, or even stage early elections – suffer from the same fundamental flaws: the absence of a day-after strategy and an almost total disregard for Hamas’s very recent democratic mandate as well as the longer-term consequences of short-term success.

Feeling cheated of its right to govern, Hamas would be unlikely to go quietly. Having reached the conclusion that its experiment in the mainstream has failed and political integration is no longer a viable option, and with its back against the wall, Hamas almost certainly would revert to internal violence or violence targeting Israel, causing maximum chaos, possibly bringing down the PA and allowing the Islamists to re-emerge as a resistance movement. The recent mutual escalation of violence with Israel shows how perilous this situation quickly can become. Nor should one expect poverty and despair to encourage the Palestinians towards greater moderation; those are the very conditions that helped propel Hamas to power in the first place, and it is difficult to imagine how they could assist Fatah in the near future. Regionally as well, the engineered failure of the first elected Sunni Islamist Government could have unwelcome repercussions, buttressing jihadi Islamists at the expense of their more political counterparts.

Starved of resources, confronting an increasingly hostile population and unable to realize its agenda, Hamas may well fail. But with widespread violence, chaos and a collapse in Palestinian institutions, it quickly would become hard to chalk up its failure as anybody’s success. Instead, what is required today is a more sophisticated, nuanced approach, pursuing the priority objectives described above with the specific policies summarized below.

Recommendations

To the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Palestinian National Resistance Movement (Fatah):

1. Reach and implement agreement on the composition and role of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), including the integration of Hamas and recognition of the PLO’s responsibility for political negotiations with Israel.

2. Form, with the participation of other Palestinian political movements and independents as appropriate, a national coalition government whose programme includes: endorsement of the 2002 Arab League’s Beirut Initiative and/or the 2006 Prisoners’ Initiative; designation of the PLO as responsible for political negotiations with Israel; ratification by national institutions and/or a national referendum of any agreement reached with Israel; and recognition of existing Palestinian commitments.

3. Reactivate the National Security Council, under the Palestinian president and including the prime minister, interior minister and heads of security agencies, to ensure the coordination of all security agencies and phased integration or demobilization of all militias.

To the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas):

4. Reinstate the truce and extend it for the duration of the current Government’s lifespan and declare a permanent moratorium on attacks against civilian targets, to enable Egypt and other mediators to achieve a reciprocal and comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian cessation of hostilities.

To the Government of Israel:

5. Cease offensive operations, particularly assassinations and incursions, which cannot be justified by imminent military necessity, refraining in particular from unprovoked acts of escalation and operations that harm civilians and damage civilian installations, and support third-party efforts to achieve a reciprocal and comprehensive cessation of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities.

6. Release all Palestinians in Israeli detention who have not been charged with an offence and respond to Palestinian initiatives to maintain quiet with timely and substantive prisoner releases.

7. Channel all withheld tax revenues to the Temporary International Mechanism proposed by the EU and maintain utility supplies and banking services for the Palestinian population.

To the members of the diplomatic Quartet (US, EU, Russian Federation, UN):

8. Subject to the PA abiding by existing Palestinian commitments and Hamas reinstating a truce, assign a UN-appointed mediator as its representative for contacts with the PLO, PA, Hamas and other Palestinian organizations to obtain commitments from the PA Government on the following matters:

(a) Support for a reciprocal and comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian cessation of hostilities;

(b) Recognition of applicable UN resolutions and the 2002 Arab League Beirut Initiative as the terms of reference for an Israeli-Palestinian political settlement;

(c) Approval of contacts between Israeli and Palestinian counterparts to improve delivery of services and mutual security, and on other matters of common interest.

9. Ensure that Israel fulfils its humanitarian obligations under international law towards the civilian population of the occupied Palestinian territories, specifically by:

(a) Providing unrestricted access to humanitarian agencies operating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that have been certified as such by the UN mediator;

(b) Halting restrictions on the free movement of persons, goods and services within, between, to and from the occupied territories that cannot be justified by legitimate security interests.

10. Issue a declaration that, while any Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory is welcome, it will not recognize boundaries situated within occupied territory established through unilateral measures nor the legitimacy of any settlements established in contravention of international law.

11. Present at an appropriate time a more detailed vision of a viable final status agreement.

To the European Union and its member States:

12. Subject to agreement between the UN mediator and the Palestinian Government as described above:

(a) Suspend the prohibition on contacts with the PA Government and Hamas leadership to expedite discussions on core EU concerns relating to the Government’s political programme, donor relations, the demobilization and integration of armed factions and terms for the removal of Hamas from the EU blacklist of terrorist organizations;

(b) Restore 2005 levels and forms of donor support to the PA, including budgetary support.

13. In the absence of agreement between the UN mediator and the Palestinian Government as described above, and subject to the PA Government abiding by existing agreements and Hamas reinstating a truce:

(a) Expand the proposed Temporary International Mechanism in order to fund basic services in the occupied territories, including PA personnel, recurrent and where necessary other costs, without distinction between civilian and security sectors, and wherever practicable through direct disbursements to personnel, suppliers, and contractors;

(b) Modify the proposed Temporary International Mechanism so that UN agencies and the World Bank rather than the PA presidency serve as intermediaries between donors and the PA Administration, and proceed with implementation without additional delay.

To the Government of the United States:

14. Refrain from threats against Palestinian political organizations and individual politicians that obstruct inter-Palestinian dialogue and the formation of a PA coalition Government.

15. Revise the Office of Foreign Assets Control directives with respect to Hamas to state specifically that the standing exemption from penalty for dealing with a proscribed organization provided to select international organizations, including the United Nations and the World Bank, will apply to third parties, such as banks and other institutions and entities, implementing programmes for or handling funds received on behalf of those international organizations.

To the Chairman of the Arab League and member States:

16. Engage with the PA Government and Hamas leadership to seek endorsement of the Arab League’s Beirut Initiative.


Declaration by the EU Council endorsing the Temporary International Mechanism
Brussels, 16 June 2006

On 16 June 2006, following its meeting in Brussels, the EU Council issued the following declaration reiterating its call for the new Palestinian Government to accept all previous obligations and supported the plan for a financial mechanism to direct aid to the Palestinian people:

The European Union remains committed to working within the Quartet towards the goal of a just, viable and lasting solution based on existing agreements, the relevant Security Council resolutions and the principles laid down in the Road Map.

In view of the urgent need to relaunch the process towards a negotiated two-State solution which would bring peace to both the Israeli and the Palestinian people, the European Council calls for an early engagement between the Israeli Prime Minister and the President of the Palestinian Authority, who was elected on a platform of peace. It reiterates its expectations from both parties to respect existing agreements and obligations, including the Road Map.

As set out by the Quartet, the Hamas-led Palestinian Government needs to meet and implement the three principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel’s right to exist and acceptance of existing agreements and obligations.

The European Council remains concerned by the security situation in Gaza and the West Bank. It condemns the violence against Palestinian civilians. It condemns the launching of Qassem rockets against population centres in Israel. It reminds both parties of their responsibility to protect civilian lives. It calls on the Palestinian Authority to take action to improve security and prevent terrorist attacks on Israel. It reiterates its condemnation of extrajudicial killings. It calls on all parties to refrain from violence and to exercise restraint.

The European Council calls on all Palestinian political forces to engage in a national dialogue aimed primarily at putting an end to inter-Palestinian confrontation and establishing law and order. It calls on the Palestinian Government to cooperate with the President of the Palestinian Authority to achieve this, including through the disarmament of groups engaged in violence and terror.

The European Council takes note of the announcement by President Abbas to hold a referendum. It calls on all Palestinian political forces to work towards the widest possible consensus in support of the objectives of the Road Map.

The European Council calls on Israel to desist from any action that threatens the viability of an agreed two-State solution and from acts that are contrary to international law. Of particular concern are settlement activities, the construction of the barrier on Palestinian land and activities in and around East Jerusalem as well as in the Jordan Valley. The European Union will not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those agreed to by both sides.

The European Council urges Israel to resume transfers of withheld Palestinian tax and customs revenues which are essential in averting a crisis in the Palestinian territories.

The European Council stresses the need for a coordinated international response to the deterioration of the humanitarian, economic and financial situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The European Council endorses the proposed Temporary International Mechanism to channel assistance directly to the Palestinian people, which has been drawn up by the Commission following consultations within the EU as well as with Quartet members, major donors, international financial institutions and partners in the region. The European Council appreciates the Commission’s work so far and requests it to continue urgently establishing the Mechanism, in conjunction with Quartet members, other key international partners and the PA President’s Office.

The European Council agrees that, in order to achieve an immediate impact, the Mechanism will focus on essential supplies and running costs for social services and health, supply of utilities, including fuel, and social allowances. Other donors, including Arab States, are invited to provide funding and to consider early and substantial contributions. The Community stands ready to contribute a substantial amount to the International Mechanism.

The European Council furthermore underlines the importance of freedom of movement and urges both parties to take concrete steps to implement their obligations under the Agreement on Movement and Access, in order to alleviate the worsening situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The European Council reiterates the importance of preserving and pursuing the democratic functioning of the institutions of the Palestinian Authority whose continuity is crucial for a future independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State based on the rule of law.


Excerpts of the EU-US Vienna Summit Declaration on the
situation in the Middle East
Brussels, 21 June 2006


The one-day summit in Vienna resulted in renewed calls for commitment to previous agreements and obligations. Excerpts of the statement are reproduced below.

/...

We will continue to closely cooperate in the Middle East, notably through the Quartet. We welcome the Temporary International Mechanism to deliver assistance directly to the Palestinian people. We will continue to deliver humanitarian assistance and promote Palestinian democracy and civil society. While recalling President Abbas’ commitment to a platform of peace, we will continue to urge the new Palestinian Government to commit to non-violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist and accept existing agreements and obligations.

We will continue to call on Israel to ease restrictions on access and movement and to take additional steps, including with respect to the Palestinian tax and customs revenues, to improve the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian people. We remind both sides of their obligations under the 15 November 2005 Agreement.

We will continue to promote a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the Road Map in order to advance a just, viable and lasting two-State solution and we call on both parties to avoid unilateral measures that prejudice final status issues. We call on the Palestinian Authority Government to implement policies that will permit the international community to provide greater support to and review its policies on contact with the Palestinian Authority.

/…

Statement by the G-8 leaders at the thirty-second summit
on the situation in the Middle East
St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, 16 July 2006


Following their meeting, the G-8 leaders issued a statement in which they expressed deepening concern about the situation in the Middle East and presented a list of conditions for a permanent solution to the conflict:


Statement by the Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)
on the situation in the Middle East
19 July 2006


After meeting to consider the deteriorating situation in the Middle East, the Foreign Ministers of the members of the Non-Aligned Movement issued the following statement condemning Israel’s actions and calling for an immediate ceasefire:



Summary by the Chair of the Stockholm International Donor Conference on the
Humanitarian Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Stockholm, 1 September 2006


The following statement was issued at the conclusion of the Stockholm International Donor Conference on the Humanitarian Situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories which was hosted by the Government of Sweden and co-hosted by Norway and Spain on 1 September 2006:

Excerpts of the EU Council conclusions welcoming agreement
on Palestinian Unity Government
Brussels, 15 September 2006


Excerpts of the statement issued by the EU Council on the conclusions adopted after its external relations meeting on the Middle East peace process are set below.

/…

The Council underlined its commitment to promoting tangible progress towards a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It welcomed the announcement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on an agreement to form a government of national unity and expressed the hope that its political platform will reflect the Quartet principles and allow for early engagement.

The Council welcomed the prospect of a meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas in the near future with a view to relaunching negotiations. It called for an immediate end to violence by Palestinian factions as well as to Israeli military activity in the Palestinian territories. The Council reiterated its call for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier. It further repeated its call for the immediate release of Palestinian ministers and legislators in Israeli custody.

The Council reiterated the need for all parties to respect their Road Map obligations. It renewed its call on the Israeli Government to freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth of settlements. Ministers reiterated that the EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders other than those agreed by both parties.

/…

Statement by Russian Federation Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the
Security Council ministerial meeting on the Middle East
New York, 21 September 2006


On 21 December 2006, the Security Council held a meeting at the ministerial level on the situation in the Middle East. The meeting emphasized the importance of the Road Map and affirmed the statement made by the Quartet the previous day. Russian Federation Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov issued the following statement:

Address by EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
Javier Solana to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee
Brussels, 4 October 2006


A summary of the remarks made by Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, follows:

/…

Israeli-Palestinian question

There have been dramatic developments over the past few days. The situation in Gaza and in the West Bank is explosive. Violent armed clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas last Sunday. Several people have been killed. One Hamas leader was killed today by Palestinians in the West Bank.

Efforts to calm the situation are continuing, by various parties – including parties in the region and us – to consolidate the calm. The potential for further deterioration of the situation still exists in spite of the efforts exerted.

Qatar yesterday proposed a six-point plan aimed at reducing the tension. It proposes a new government with a different prime minister. This will probably not fly but it is a good attempt from an active Arab country.

President Abbas is expected to take decisive decisions to overcome the current crisis. There has been no agreement so far between him and Hamas on the formation of a unity government. But there is serious talk of a unity government formed of qualified nationals. If this is not possible, there is the possibility that President Abbas will call early elections. I think this would complicate things.

The Quartet met the week before last in New York and it issued a good, clear statement, welcomed by the parties, using European language, welcoming the Palestinian efforts to form a government of national unity. Let us hope that, from now on, the Quartet can play a more active role. We must give momentum to the efforts to make the Israel-Palestine conflict the centre of gravity because if this is not solved the rest of the conflicts in the Middle East cannot be solved.

I intend to go myself to the Middle East soon, after my two trips to Lebanon during the summer conflict.

The EU has been helping Palestine both politically and economically. Without external political and economic support, the situation in the Palestinian Territories may deteriorate beyond recovery.

So far this year, the EU's support for the Palestinians already exceeds the total amount for 2005 despite Hamas' ascent to power. But we should do more. We are determined to do more.

The Rafah crossing point, on the border between Palestine and Egypt, has been closed for most of the time since the abduction of the Israeli soldier. We have tried very hard to have it open at least for a few hours in the day. We are also looking at the possibility of setting up a similar operation to the EUBAM Rafah mission on the border between Palestine and Israel.

/…

Israeli-Palestinian joint statement on the Geneva Initiative meeting
8 December 2006


After the joint Israeli-Palestinian meeting on the Geneva Initiative, the following statement was released by both sides:
Excerpts of the EU Council Presidency conclusions on the Middle East
Brussels, 15 December 2006


Excerpts of the declaration issued on 15 December following the Council’s meeting on the situation in the Middle East (16879/06, CONCL 3) are set out below.

/…

The European Council noted with concern that the Middle East is faced with one of the worst crises in years. The Israeli-Arab conflict is at the heart of this crisis. The EU is committed to overcoming the current impasse in the peace process and to easing tensions in the broader region.

The ceasefire in Gaza is an important first step. Violations of the ceasefire must end and it should be extended to the West Bank. For the ceasefire to be meaningful and sustainable it must be consolidated through a political process. In this respect the European Council noted Prime Minister Olmert's address of 27 November. The EU welcomed the readiness of President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert to resume dialogue, and urged them to meet soon. The European Council also invited the other members of the Quartet and the regional partners to intensify common efforts aimed at reinvigorating the peace process.

The European Council commended the efforts of President Abbas over the last six months to form a government of national unity. The EU stands ready to work with a legitimate Palestinian Government that adopts a platform reflecting the Quartet principles. If such a Government is formed, the EU undertakes: to resume partnership with the Palestinian Government and encourage Quartet partners to do likewise; to continue, with other donors, providing financial support; and to prepare, in cooperation with the new Government, a long-term plan on capacity-building, border management and unified and effective security forces, as well as a functioning Administration.

The European Council called for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier and commended efforts, including by partners in the region to that effect. The European Council also called for the immediate release of Palestinian ministers and legislators detained in Israel.

The European Council noted the vital role played by the Temporary International Mechanism in providing essential relief to a large part of the Palestinian population since its launch in June 2006.

The increased assistance provided by the Community’s budget and by member States bilaterally this year, and the contributions by other donors to the Mechanism are deeply valued. In view of the protracted deterioration of the socio-economic situation of the Palestinians, the European Council endorsed a further three-month extension of the Mechanism until March 2007. The European Council calls for the release of Palestinian customs and tax revenues withheld by Israel.

The European Council reiterated the need for full and speedy implementation of the Road Map. As a first step, the following priorities should be pursued, following a calendar agreed between the parties and monitored by the Quartet: full and speedy implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access; full implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh Understandings, including the release of prisoners and resumption of security cooperation between the parties; parallel implementation by the parties of the obligations they have committed to under the first phase of the Road Map.

These, though important, are only initial steps, and must lead to meaningful negotiations on the final status, the ultimate goal of which is an end to the occupation that began in 1967 and the creation of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State, living side by side with Israel and its other neighbours in peace and security. In that context the parties have to take concrete and immediate measures to put an end to all acts of violence and to all activities which are contrary to international law, including settlement activities and the construction of the barrier on Palestinian land, that constitute an obstacle to the achievement of that goal. The EU will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders other than those agreed by both parties.

The European Council invited the Quartet to stand ready to lead an effort by the international community to build on the outcome of successful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in order to reach a comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Arab conflict, including peace agreements with Syria and Lebanon and full normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab countries.

This will require an inclusive approach involving all relevant actors; all need to engage constructively in the region to support these efforts. In accordance with the Road Map, the Quartet, in consultation with the parties, should in due course convene an international conference to realize these goals.

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Three-point agreement between Hamas and Fatah proposed by the
Organization of the Islamic Conference
Jeddah, 19 December 2006


The Organization of the Islamic Conference sent out the following press release announcing a three-point agreement between Hamas and Fatah:

An Organization of the Islamic Conference-sponsored three-point agreement between the Fatah movement and the Hamas movement was announced last night, following the visit by the OIC Secretary-General, Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, to the Palestinian territories, where he met President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen in Ramallah and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza.

The three points are: that comprehensive calm should return in the Palestinian territories through the withdrawal of all weapons and the ending of all marches; that an independent judicial committee made up of five judges (one judge each to be appointed by Hamas and Fatah and three judges to be appointed by the OIC) be constituted to investigate all past incidents; and that national dialogue among all factions, particularly between Fatah and Hamas, should be resumed without any preconditions.

President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh have both agreed that the OIC and its Secretary-General should play a pivotal role in the implementation of this agreement and the realization of the three objectives mentioned.
Statement by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas following their meeting in Jerusalem
Jerusalem, 23 December 2006


After their meeting held in 23 December 2006 at the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Olmert in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Olmert and PA President Abbas released the following joint statement:

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