Middle East: both sides should be willing to take risks for peace, say S&Ds
Following the publication of a new report by the Middle East Quartet of peace mediators on the situation in the region, S&D MEPs have reiterated their commitment to serious peace talks to find a solution that can bring peace to the long-running conflict.
S&D MEP and vice-president for foreign affairs Victor Boştinaru said:
„We believe that the new Quartet report highlights most of the difficulties we face today when it comes to re-launching the negotiations in the Middle East peace process.
„I share the concerns of the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, security and defence, Federica Mogherini, that continuing on the current path will decrease the prospect of a two-state solution. This solution is the only outcome that would allow us to achieve an enduring peace that meets the needs and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians. Therefore, our group is committed to supporting all realistic peace initiatives, including the Arab Peace Initiative, while reiterating our plea for setting clear deadlines.
„While fully supporting Mogherini’s assessment of the situation and condemning all incitements and violence on the ground, it is important to keep in mind that there are not many Palestinians today that still believe there will be a solution in the near future. Not many young Palestinians today still hold out hope for a better life and opportunities in their country. This is particularly worrying in Gaza, which is in a dire humanitarian situation mostly because of the lack of adequate reconstruction and the Israeli blockade. This lack of hope is an alarming fact that can only fuel further violence and exacerbate the conflict. There is an urgent need to overcome the stalemate and bring back hope and real prospects to civil society.
„There is no better way to stop violence than co-operation between the two sides, Palestinians and Israelis, in order to fight extremism and terrorism. At the same time we call for an immediate halt to the occupation, demolitions and settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in full compliance with international law.
„I shall also take this opportunity to call for Palestinian unity, as this is the only way to consolidate and legitimate the Palestinian institutions and leadership.”
Said Richard Howitt MEP, S&D Group’s foreign affairs co-ordinator:
„The importance of the Quartet report isn’t in telling us what we already know, including that there is no serious alternative to the two state-solution, but in challenging all of us on what we may not want to hear.
„There is a common message for both sides: that you should talk the language of peace. But a return to talks isn’t all we must ask: the talks must have a clear prospect of success within a given timetable.
„On the Palestinian side, I know it is a sensitive issue for some in this chamber, but this report underlines the importance of Palestinian reconciliation.
„On the Israeli side, the barriers to progress created by settlement expansion are once again laid bare, but equally, so is the failure of international action to seriously affect it.
„The importance of the French initiative is that it shows that the international community can have the political will to take risks.
„In saying to both sides in the Middle East peace process they should be willing to take risks for peace, we should show that we are willing to do so ourselves.”
Foto: REUTERS/Ammar Awad