The European Union and its Member States are deeply concerned by the increasing violence and extremism in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, which are leading to appalling numbers of Israeli and Palestinian victims, including children. The situation in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is a great cause for concern.
We call on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to de-escalate the situation and to refrain from actions that will increase the already high level of tension. Settlements are illegal under international law. Israel must stop settlement expansion, prevent settler violence, and ensure the perpetrators are held accountable. Military operations must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law. There must be an immediate end to terror attacks, which should be condemned by everyone, and to practices that support them. The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip requires further easing of restrictions. The status quo of the Holy Sites must be upheld in line with previous understandings and with respect to Jordan’s special role. Peaceful coexistence between Christians, Jews and Muslims must be maintained.
All these issues are obstacles to peace.
We commend the efforts of the US, Jordan, and Egypt to de-escalate and support the Aqaba communique. All parties should observe the agreements in Aqaba in good faith.
It is vital to restore a political horizon towards a two-state solution. Only a negotiated agreement offers a chance of security and peace for all.
There is an urgent need for a new perspective for peace. Three weeks ago, the High Representative/Vice President met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal and with Arab League Secretary-General Aboul Gheit. They agreed to revive and build on the Arab Peace Initiative, and the EU reaffirmed its proposal of an unprecedented package of economic, political and security support in the context of a final status agreement as endorsed in the Council conclusions of December 2013. In this effort, we work closely with other Arab and international partners. While we cannot force the parties to make peace, we share a responsibility to prepare the ground. Security, the rule of law and peace in the Middle East, are a priority for the EU.