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The EU has been deeply concerned about developments on the ground, which threaten to make a two-state solution impossible. The only way to resolve the conflict is through an agreement that ends the occupation which began in 1967, that ends all claims and that fulfils the aspirations of both parties. A one state reality would not be compatible with these aspirations. A lasting solution must be achieved on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, the Madrid principles including land for peace, the Roadmap, agreements previously reached by the parties and of the Arab Peace Initiative. If an agreement to finally end the conflict was reached, the door would open to a deepened and enhanced cooperation among all the countries of the region.
The EU is willing to work with its partners to re-launch peace negotiations, based on the following parameters:
To that end, the EU undertakes a range of activities – both political and practical – and is the largest donor to Palestinian state-building efforts aiming at a Palestinian state based on the rule of law and respect of human rights and has consistently called for intra-Palestinian reconciliation and holding of democratic elections.
In 2013 and 2014, the EU strongly supported the diplomatic efforts by the US Secretary J. Kerry to foster direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. In December 2013, the EU foreign ministers signaled their readiness to provide unprecedented political, economic and security support to both parties in the context of a final status agreement. The EU offer includes a Special Privileged Partnership to both Israelis and Palestinians that will build on the strong existing EU-Israel and EU-Palestinian cooperation and fully exploit the potential of trilateral cooperation to address concrete social-economic challenges and opportunities.
The EU – with the UN, the US and the Russian Federation – is a member of the 'Quartet' which in 2002 launched a ‘road map for peace’ aimed at resolving the conflict. The EU has welcomed the Arab Peace Initiative as a significant contribution from the Arab countries.
Regarding the Gaza Strip, the conflict in 2014 has demonstrated the unsustainable nature of the status quo and the need for a lifting of the Gaza closure regime in line with UNSC resolution 1860 (2009) and for an end to threats to Israel. The EU encourages the Palestinian Authority to progressively assume its government function in the Gaza Strip, including in the field of security, civil administration and through its presence at the Gaza crossing points. The EU stands ready to play a key role in international efforts to support a durable ceasefire, including through the rapid reactivation and possible extension in scope and mandate of its EUBAM Rafah and EUPOL COPPS missions.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process
The EU’s objective is a two-state solution with an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel and its other neighbours. The EU's long-term policy asserts that negotiations remain the best way forward.
EU positions on "final status issues"
EU policymaking from the "Venice Declaration"
The EU has set out its policy on the Middle East in a series of high level public statements. The Venice Declaration of 1980 recognised the right to security and existence for all states in the region including Israel, and the need to fulfil the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The Berlin Declaration of 1999 included an explicit commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state and to the recognition of a Palestinian state, when appropriate. The Seville Declaration of June 2002 introduced specific details of the final status solution, as set out above.
In June 2002, the EU co-sponsored the Roadmap for Peace, a three-stage process for achieving these objectives. The Roadmap emphasises the need for Palestinian institution-building and economic recovery with a view to enhancing the strength and viability of the future Palestinian state. This “state-building process” requires sustained engagement on the part of the international community. It also requires urgent improvement on issues related to freedom of movement in the occupied Palestinian territory. The EU has repeatedly called for the immediate freezing of settlement activities and the proactive dismantling of outposts as set out in the Roadmap.
From 2007 onwards, the EU actively supported the "Annapolis process" which committed the Israelis and the Palestinians to implement Roadmap obligations and to reach a peace agreement by the end of 2008. The EU Action Strategy for Peace in the Middle East of November 2007 set out a range of ways in which the EU can support the peace process, including Palestinian state-building assistance and comprehensive conflict resolution on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative. Although negotiations took place throughout 2008 in the framework of the "Annapolis process", agreement could not be reached by the agreed deadline.
Since 2009, the EU has supported the US administration initiatives encouraging both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume bilateral negotiations leading to a two-state solution and at the same time continued to uphold the Palestinian state building. Through the PEGASE mechanism, the EU has provided support to the development plans of the Palestinian Authority (PA) starting from the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP) of 2007 and the subsequent National Development Plans.
In December 2013, the EU foreign ministers signalled their readiness to provide unprecedented European political, economic and security support to both parties in the context of a final status agreement. The EU offer includes support measures addressing the final status issues, which would ensure the sustainability of a future peace treaty, as well as a Special Privileged Partnership with both Israelis and Palestinians that will build on the strong existing EU-Israel and EU-Palestinian cooperation and fully exploit the potential of trilateral cooperation to address concrete social-economic challenges and opportunities.
The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinians. In recent years, the combined contribution of the European Commission and EU Member States has reached €1 billion per year. European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is the main framework to develop political as well as economic relations of the EU with both Israel and Palestinian Authority. Commission programmes targeted at ENP partner countries have been implemented mainly through a common financial instrument: the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI). The EU’s development assistance is managed by the Commission's Directorate–General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR). The Commission’s Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) oversees humanitarian assistance. On the ground, the assistance is managed by the Office of the EU Representative for the West Bank and Gaza Strip in East Jerusalem. The humanitarian assistance is managed by the ECHO office in Jerusalem.
The EU has taken a leading role in the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC), established in 1993, which is a 15-member body serving as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinian people. The AHLC is chaired by Norway and co-sponsored by the EU and the US. The United Nations participates together with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. HR/VP hosts the Spring Sessions of the AHLC in Brussels.
Customs and trade: The EU is active in this area, for example by providing technological solutions for the swift control of goods passing through the borders of the future Palestinian state, and by supporting the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to develop its trade policy and institutions.
EU assistance is intended to foster the conditions for peace, stability and prosperity in the region, notably by advancing the Palestinian state-building process, promoting good governance and encouraging economic recovery with a view to enhancing the viability of the future Palestinian state.