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EU Foreign Affairs Council: Middle East – a return to direct negotiations with no pre-conditions

“The parties must engage in direct and substantial negotiations without preconditions in order to achieve a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. These were the conclusions, regarding the Middle East peace process, of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council, meeting in Brussels.

“Renewed, structured and substantial peace efforts in 2013”

“All parties must avoid acts which undermine confidence and the viability of a two-state solution. The European Union underlines the urgency of renewed, structured and substantial peace efforts in 2013 and, towards this end, it is ready to work with the US and other international partners, including within the Quartet. There will be no sustainable peace until the Palestinians’ aspirations for statehood and sovereignty and those of Israelis for security are fulfilled through a comprehensive negotiated peace based on the two-state solution”.

The European Union “strongly opposes Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank” because they would “seriously undermine the prospects” for peace. It also calls on Israel “to avoid any step undermining the financial situation of the Palestinian Authority”.

Palestine must use its new status constructively

As for Palestine’s new status as UN observer state, the EU calls on the Palestinian leadership “to use constructively this new status and not to undertake steps which would deepen the lack of trust” with respect to peace with Israel. It therefore “reiterates its call for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind the strong leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas”.

The European Union reiterates “its fundamental commitment to the security of Israel”. It will “never stop opposing those who embrace and promote violence as a way to achieve political goals. The EU finds inflammatory statements by Hamas leaders that deny Israel’s right to exist unacceptable”.