Press Advisories

9. 1. 2009 10:13

EU Presidency Statement on the Middle East

The Presidency is deeply concerned over the continuing Israeli military action in Gaza and the continuation of indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel. We call on all parties to restrain from acts that further escalate an already tense situation.

The Presidency welcomes the agreement reached by the Security Council in New York and calls on all parties to fully implement UNSCR 1860.

The Presidency deplores the ongoing hostilities, which have led to an increasing number of civilian casualties in Gaza and Israel. It expresses its sincere condolences to the families of Palestinian and Israeli victims. It repeats its call for an immediate cessation of military actions on both sides. There must be an unconditional halt to rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel and an end to Israeli military action.

The Presidency is deeply concerned that humanitarian convoys have been fired upon and humanitarian staff killed, resulting in the disruption of humanitarian operations. We call on Israel to work and closely coordinate with humanitarian organizations. The Presidency firmly believes that only a full and immediate ceasefire will allow the delivery and distribution of the large quantities of humanitarian aid that Gaza desperately needs and for the resumption of basic services.

The Presidency shares Israel’s concerns over the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. The European Union is examining ways to assist in helping secure the border, within the framework of an international mission. The European Union continues to stand ready to redeploy EUBAM Rafah and examine the possibility of extending its assistance to other crossing points. The Presidency also calls on Israel to fully open its border crossings with Gaza to allow the regular and predictable movement of persons, humanitarian aid and commercial goods. We strongly believe that a viable Gazan economy is essential for a sustainable peace.

The European Union continues to believe that the two state solution remains the best hope for a lasting peace. The recent crisis only serves to show that urgent progress in the peace process is needed more than ever. The Presidency will urge the parties to advance the peace process in 2009. We also believe that Palestinian unity needs to be urgently restored. In this regard the Presidency underlines the need to see tangible progress in Palestinian reconciliation in support of efforts by Egypt and the Arab League.

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