EU Council: International Support Group to Revive Peace Talks

BRUSSELS, July 20, 2015 (WAFA) – The European Union Council Tuesday asked the High Representative to explore options for the establishment of an international support group to contribute to reviving peace talks.

The EU council, in a press statement, said that the implementation of this initiative is expected to assist in securing a just and lasting peace, but requires an increased common international effort.

With regional and international actors expected to report back in early September, the EU expressed readiness to engage in joint work with regional partners on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative, and welcomed ongoing efforts of the Quartet in this regard.

The EU Council has also reaffirmed its commitment to a just and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two-state solution.

It emphasized there was no alternative to a negotiated two-state solution, given that “the regional context, including the ongoing radicalization and spread of terrorism, makes it even more urgent to end the conflict.”

“The status-quo is not an option, as the viability of the two-state solution is constantly being eroded by new facts on the ground,” the statement said, adding: “The EU urges both parties to demonstrate their stated commitment to the two-state solution through concrete actions.”

The council called on both sides to avoid actions, by either side, which jeopardizes a negotiated solution.

The EU vowed to actively support all involved sides to “restore confidence and create an environment of trust necessary to engage in meaningful negotiations as soon as possible.”

The statement stressed the importance of addressing the grave situation in the Gaza Strip and fulfilling previous pledges. “One year after the conflict, the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in the Gaza Strip remains dire. In light of the urgent needs of the people in Gaza, all international community pledges should be honored.”

The EU expressed its concern over UNRWA’s severe lack of funds and, as a leading donor to UNRWA, called on all concerned donors to step up their funding.

The council also tackled the importance of respecting international humanitarian law and international human rights law by states and non-state actors, including accountability, to achieve peace and security.

It further welcomed recent steps taken by Israel to ease restrictions in Gaza. However, it said further positive measures are now needed to enable the full delivery of humanitarian aid, reconstruction and economic recovery on a permanent basis.

Regarding the reconciliation, the EU said intra-Palestinian reconciliation was an important element for reaching the two-state solution.

It called on the Palestinian factions to make reconciliation and considered the return of the PA to Gaza as a top priority. “The PA must take greater responsibility in this regard and assume its government functions in the Gaza Strip, including in the field of security, civil administration and through its presence at the Gaza crossing points.”

The EU expressed full support to provide full support to these efforts, including through the rapid reactivation and possible extension in scope and mandate of its EUBAM Rafah and EUPOL COPPS missions.

It also called on Israel to enable accelerated Palestinian construction, as well as social and economic development in Area C, explaining that “such actions will serve to strengthen the prosperity and security of both Israelis and Palestinians.”

It further called on Israeli authorities to halt plans for forced transfer of population and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure in the Susiya and Abu Nawar communities.

The international body reiterated its strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in this context, such as building the separation barrier beyond the 1967 line, demolitions and confiscation – including of EU funded projects – evictions, forced transfers including of Bedouins, illegal outposts, settler violence and restrictions of movement and access.

It said, such actions threaten the two-state solution, while settlement activity in East Jerusalem jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both states.

The EU expressed its commitment to ensure that – in line with international law – all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

It added that it will work actively on a renewed multilateral approach to the peace process in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including partners in the Quartet, notably the US, in the region and the United Nations Security Council.