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Statement By Javier Solana On Middle East

Summary Of The Intervention By Javier Solana EU High Representative For The Common Foreign And Security Policy


Mr President,
Honourable Members,

1. Today we are faced with a situation in the Middle East that is in equal parts dramatic, tragic and dangerous. We must confront the stark reality: that we have now reached the threshold of the unacceptable; that these events will lead nowhere but further misery and despair; and that consequently we must act on every front, not just to solve the immediate crisis, but also to remove the causes of crisis.

2. So that everyone understands me: let no one doubt that I condemn utterly and without reserve all terrorist acts, none more so than the recent spate of suicide bombings in Israel. I have personally; both in political and private life, been sufficiently familiar with terrorism and its bloody aftermath to be absolutely clear on this point.

3. But the military response that we are witnessing in the occupied territories is intolerable and must be halted immediately. We are all aware of the immense suffering of the civilian population. To deny whole populations access to water and electricity is not justifiable by security considerations. There are violations of humanitarian and military law that cannot go uncommented.

4. The Government of Israel has the right - indeed has the duty - to protect its citizens. But what we are witnessing will not serve that end. For this is not an anti-terrorist operation - it is perilously close to war.

5. We have two very clear Security Council Resolutions. They do not lend themselves to a variety of interpretations. They are crystal clear and must be applied now. The Israeli military operation must be halted, not in stages, not town by town. It must stop and stop immediately.

6. Elsewhere, I am alarmed by the deteriorating situation on the border between Israel and Lebanon. There is a real risk of regional overspill. But I wish to be clear on this point: the UN has certified the delimitation of the border between Israel and Lebanon. Thus, the Lebanese Government has the responsibility to ensure that no attacks on Israel are carried out from its territory. We cannot be selective in our call for the respect of International Law. All governments in the region must abide by the rule of law.

7. Even if these military actions are wrong, will they succeed? Will these actions protect Israel's citizens? Will they enhance her security? Will this operation be enough to eliminate the terrorist risk? We all know here and now that the answer is no. They will do nothing of the sort. Of course arrests have been made, militants detained, bomb factories discovered. But I fear that for every suicide bomber killed or arrested ten more willing recruits will have been created. Where before a street in Jenin or Nablus or Bethlehem contained one militant now it contains a hundred.

8. Of course I favour a cease-fire: the arms must fall silent, life in the occupied territories must be allowed to start again. But what will have been achieved by the time we reach that point? Let us be clear: the Tenet Plan or the proposals of General Zinni will have been largely overtaken by events. The Palestinian leadership will have been destroyed if one considers the elected head of the Palestinian Authority as "irrelevant". The Palestinian security machinery will have been damaged beyond repair - and much more effectively so than the networks of Islamic extremists. Today it is Tenet that has been rendered "irrelevant".

9. What will happen after the end of the military operations? What is the plan for the day after? The creation of "security zones" perhaps? The creation of "buffer zones"? This would constitute the de facto annexation of whole portions of the West Bank, which is, let us remind ourselves, occupied territory. One could annex territory unilaterally, but one can never achieve peace unilaterally. Unilateral peace does not exist. I have put this point to several Israeli leaders. They have no clear response. But our response must be clear: the path pursued in the past few days is the road to nowhere. It is wrong and it will not work. It is the guarantee of lasting conflict not lasting peace.

10. Faced with this crisis we must work energetically on all fronts. On the diplomatic front, we must restate that President Arafat is the legitimate Palestinian leader, for as long as another has not been democratically chosen by the Palestinians. And that is why the policy of isolating Arafat is a mistake. You all know that that we were prevented from seeing him last week. I do not consider that to be a humiliation for Europe, but as a political error of Israel, to whom I have said this in the clearest of terms. Harassing a political peace mission, undertaken in good faith and mandated by Governments of some of Israel's closest partners and neighbours, was irresponsible and short sighted.
11. We must continue to be present on the ground, as this Parliament is. Our Special Representative, Miguel Moratinos, whose tireless efforts I wish to praise here, has succeeded last night in meeting Abu Mazan in Ramallah and in facilitating the meeting planned for today of Chairman Arafat with his closest collaborators.

12. On the diplomatic front, we must also state clearly and categorically that the time has come to bring this crisis to an end now and to remove the causes of future crises: not by a long cease-fire, leading to a long waiting period and then to a series of meandering negotiations. We must move rapidly to the objective: an end to the occupation and the establishment of two states within secure frontiers. Two states, whose security will be guaranteed and with whom we will foster cooperation. We must return to the only credible vision for the region: that sketched out at Camp David and Taba. Any interim agreement of long duration will find no partner and will represent nothing more than the long drawing out of the crisis.

13. There is no way out of the crisis without massive international involvement in a number of ways. On the ground, an international presence is indispensable. We have stressed for months that a third party mechanism would help the parties. In the current situation, with a collapsing Palestinian Authority, and no more channels of cooperation between the parties, what yesterday could have been useful is now indispensable.

14. We are going to have to urgently consider reconstruction of the Palestinian administration, and construction of the Palestinian State, on top of a more comprehensive damage assessment on the infrastructure. An urgent financial effort will be required. It will have to be more than just European, but we will have to mobilise all donors in the direction needed.

15. Tomorrow, in Madrid, we will meet with Colin Powell, Kofi Annan and Igor Ivanov. I will tell them what I have just told you: that we must go beyond the question of a cease-fire because too many red lines have been crossed. That the will of the international community must now be heard; and that we need to find not a return to the status quo ante - which solved nothing - but a solution to this conflict which has lasted far too long, and killed far too many.

As men and women, and as Europeans, we have a duty to act to end this dreadful misery.


Ends

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