UN: EU Statement at the Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

UN Security Council debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question; Statement by H.E. Ms. Kirsti Lintonen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN, on behalf of the EU, New York, 21 November 2006

Mr. President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine align themselves with this declaration.

*) Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Mr. President,

At the outset, let me express my deppest condolences to the family of the Minister of Industry of Lebanon, Pierre Gemayel, who was assassinated today. The Presidency of the European Union condemns in the strongest terms this brutal assassination. The attack comes at a time when political situation in Lebanon is already critically tense.

The Presidency urges all parties to refrain from activities that would further endanger the political stability of Lebanon. The Presidency reiterates the EU's full support to the legitimate and democratically elected Lebanese government.

Mr. President,

The continued violence in the Middle East is a cause of deep concern to the European Union. We have strongly deplored the Israeli military action in Gaza resulting in a growing number of civilian casualties. We have also strongly deplored the firing of rockets on Israeli territory. The deterioration of the situation will only aggravate the already grave circumstances in the region, where a return to a comprehensive peace process with a clear political perspective is urgently needed.

The European Union reaffirms its intention to support Israeli and Palestinian efforts to advance the peace process. We underline our intention to actively contribute to the work within the Quartet to get the Middle East Peace Process urgently back on track in order to make progress towards a comprehensive settlement on the basis of the Roadmap, relevant UNSC resolutions and the commitments made at Sharm el-Sheikh in 2005.

The European Union reiterates its call for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier and commends efforts including by partners in the region to that effect. We also repeat our call for immediate release of Palestinian ministers and legislators detained in Israel.  

The European Union urges the Palestinians to work for national unity and to form a government with a platform reflecting the Quartet principles and allowing for early engagement. Such a government of national unity would also be a partner for the international community to support the re-launching of the peace process. We underline the importance of preserving and strengthening the capacity of the institutions of the Palestinian Authority and express our readiness to provide enhanced support to a Palestinian Government that the EU can engage with.

The European Union remains deeply concerned at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank and recalls its commitment to help the Palestinian people. We reiterate our call on Israel for the immediate resumption of transfers of withheld Palestinian tax and customs revenues. We encourage donors and others to make full use of the Temporary International Mechanism.

The European Union emphasises the importance of the implementation of the Agreement of Movement and Access of November 2005. We call on Israel to also respect previous agreements and to fulfil its obligations under them. We insist on the particular importance of regular operations at Gaza crossings, notably Rafah and call on Israel to do its utmost to ensure that the crossings be opened and remain open.

Mr. President,

On Lebanon, the European Union encourages all Lebanese parties to reach consensus and to resume the process of national dialogue. We continue to be committed to supporting the legitimate and democratically elected Lebanese government and its efforts to stabilise the situation in the country, and to maintain its unity. In this regard, the EU fully supports the reconstruction process in the perspective of the Paris Conference in January 2007.

The European Union reiterates its call for the immediate release of the two abducted Israeli soldiers. We renew our determination to support the full implementation of UNSCR 1701 and call on all parties in the region to comply with the resolution, notably the arms embargo. Lebanon's sovereignty over its land, sea and airspace must be respected by all. The European Union urges Israel to stop violations of Lebanese airspace by the Israeli Air Force. We welcome the deployment of UNIFIL troops and the Lebanese armed forces which is progressing well.

We call on countries in the region to refrain from any interference in Lebanon's internal affairs, in accordance with UNSC resolutions and to provide firm support to Lebanon's Government in reconstruction efforts.

Thank you, Mr. President.