UN: EU statement on situation in Middle East

UNGA 61st Session; Agenda Item 13: the Situation in the Middle East

Statement by H.E. Mr. Tom Grönberg, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN, on behalf of the European Union

New York, 30 November 2006

Madam President,

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

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

* Croatia continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

Madam President,

At the outset, the European Union would like to welcome the agreement between President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to establish a mutual ceasefire in Gaza. We regard it as a promising first step on a path towards peace and call upon both parties to adhere strictly to their commitments and avoid hasty action which could jeopardize progress towards a sustained period of calm. The European Union encourages both parties to endeavour to extend the ceasefire to the West Bank.

While welcoming this positive development, the European Union calls on the parties to do more to facilitate the urgent reinvigoration of the peace process. We urge the Palestinians to work towards 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 reiterate our call for the immediate release of the abducted Israeli soldier and commend 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 emphasises the importance of the implementation by both parties 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 underline 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.

Madam President,

The European Union remains deeply concerned at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank, as also highlighted in recent reports by UN agencies. 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 reiterates its intention to actively contribute to the work of 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. This should be done in close cooperation with Arab partners. We call for the reinvigoration of efforts to promote progress in the Middle East Peace Process on all its tracks.

The European Union encourages the parties to continue on the path of direct dialogue and negotiation in the fulfilment of the vision of two states, a safe and secure Israel and a viable, sovereign and democratic Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. Final status issues, including border issues, have to be agreed by the two parties. The European Union underlines that lasting peace and security in the region can only be ensured by a comprehensive settlement with a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at its core.

Thank you,  Madam President.