Participation in PLO Jordan Valley Event
22 June 2020, Speaking points
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Masa2 al Kheer
[Ana Sa3eed bi wujoodi huna al yawm ma3kom fi al 2aghwar]
On behalf of my EU colleagues, I would like to extend our gratitude to Governor Abu al-ASAL for hosting us today and to the PLO for providing us with a valuable analysis of the situation on the ground, and the threat posed by possible Israeli annexation.
Let me get straight to the point and address the possible annexation by Israel of parts of the occupied Palestinian territory. Our position is very clear.
First, we consider that unilateral annexation would constitute a serious violation of international law. We have reiterated that we will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by both sides, and – in line with international law and UN Security Council resolutions – we do not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since 1967. We will therefore closely monitor the situation and its broader implications, and we will act accordingly.
Second, unilateral annexation would cause real - and possibly irreparable - damage to the prospects for a negotiated two-state solution. We continue to support the two-state solution, based on international parameters and on 1967 lines, with Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition – (as set out in the European Union Council Conclusions of July 2014).
The High Representative of the European Union has strongly urged Israel to refrain from any unilateral decision that would lead to the annexation of any additional parts of the occupied Palestinian territory.
The EU will continue to support the resumption of a meaningful negotiation process towards the two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both peoples. As we have always said, the EU is committed to a just and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two state solution, with the Sate of Isarel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. To build a just and lasting peace, the unresolved final status issues must be decided through direct negotiations between both parties. This includes notably the issues related to borders, the status of Jerusalem, the refugee question and security.
Third and finally, from a European Union perspective, annexation would inevitably have consequences for the close relationship we currently enjoy with Israel. The European Union has its own obligations and responsibilities under international and European Union law, and as stated by the High Representative, the EU will continue to monitor the situation closely, including any steps towards possible annexation, and act accordingly
While my focus today is clearly on the dangers of annexation, let me take the opportunity to say that we also urge our friends on the Palestinian side to avoid taking unilateral steps of your own, to work to preserve stability in the West Bank and to take concrete steps to increase the democratic legitimacy of your leadership and to advance intra-Palestinian reunification.
As you will know, the EU and its Member States as Palestine's most important donors are the strongest supporter of efforts to build a future Palestinian state. On average, we provide around €650 million per year in assistance, through direct financial support, help for Palestinian refugees and state-building programmes. Our response to the COVID-19 pandemic has also seen the EU mobilise almost €115 million to date, chiefly directed at the health sector and efforts to alleviate the socio-economic impact of the crisis.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The EU has taken important diplomatic steps with all relevant stakeholders and actors to avoid annexation before it is too late. In this regard, the High Representative has held a number of conversations with the Palestinian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister as well as with members of the new Israeli government and other key partners in the region and beyond.
In the coming weeks and months, we will continue engaging with the parties and the international community in support of a negotiated two-state solution based on the international parameters.
Now let me conclude with a note on the now more than 50 year-long occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. For even without annexation, Palestinians will still find themselves living under a continuing and prolonged occupation. Illegal settlements are expanding and Palestinians in Area C are facing the demolition of their homes and displacement on a daily basis. The Palestinian identity of East Jerusalem is threatened and Gaza is cut from the world after 13 years of closure. Trust and confidence appears to be almost lost.
Let me stress that also here our position is clear. We have and will continue to call on the government of Israel to fully comply with international law, and to end all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories and actions taken in this context, such as demolitions and confiscation - including of EU funded projects - evictions, forced transfers, and restrictions of movement and access.
We will continue to make clear that settlement activity in occupied East Jerusalem cuts the geographic and territorial contiguity between East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank, isolates Palestinian communities living in these areas, and seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both States. And we will continue our political dialogue with the Palestinian leadership, as well as development cooperation and humanitarian support to the Palestinian people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to conclude. We want to reassure you that we remain fully committed to a just and durable solution and fully support your aspirations for a future Palestinian State living in peace and security alongside Israel.
I thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak here today.