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French Version

Statement on the Middle East peace process

"The European Union reaffirms its commitment to a negotiated two-State solution agreed between the parties which would result in a viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian State existing side by side in peace with an Israel living within recognised and secure borders. The Union reaffirms its belief that the Roadmap represents the only route to achieving such an outcome. The Union is determined to pursue vigorously the course set out in the Roadmap and calls on both sides to fulfil their obligations under the Roadmap.

The European Union recalls its established position, restated by the European Council of 25-26 March, that the Union will not recognise any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties. The Union emphasises that no declared views on the possible shape of a final settlement can pre-empt the negotiation of that settlement.

The European Union also notes that the refugee question and the manner in which the right of return may be realised is also a Final Status issue and that the Roadmap states that a final and comprehensive permanent status agreement that ends the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must include an agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to this question.

In this context, the Union notes President Bush's reaffirmation of the United States' commitment to the Roadmap and to a negotiated settlement.

The European Union emphasises the principle, shared by President Bush, that Final Status issues are a matter for negotiation and agreement between the parties themselves and must not be prejudged.

The European Union notes President Bush's agreement that secure and recognised borders should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UN Security Resolutions 242 and 338. These and other relevant Security Council Resolutions must form the basis for a just and lasting settlement of the conflict.

The European Union welcomes the prospect of Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The European Council has stated that such a withdrawal could represent a significant step towards the implementation of the Roadmap provided that it is carried out in accordance with certain conditions. This is an opportunity which the international community led by the Quartet should seize.

The proposed withdrawal should be properly orchestrated with the international community so as to ensure that an orderly situation in Gaza results which will permit the maintenance of security as well as rehabilitation and reconstruction. The Union urges all parties to undertake urgently preparations towards this end.

On that basis, the European Union reiterates its readiness to support the Palestinian Authority in taking responsibility for law and order as well as to continue the Union's existing aid to the Palestinian Authority and to examine possible future needs which may arise in the context of a new situation in Gaza.

The Union stresses the need to avoid a political vacuum, and the dangers which that would involve, in the interim period between now and the beginning of any withdrawal. It recalls that there are a number of measures which need to be adopted in the period immediately ahead in the political, security and humanitarian spheres in order to prevent further deterioration and to resume progress.

The European Union urges an end to violence and terrorism as well as the resumption of a ceasefire embracing all parties and groups. It calls on both sides to resume negotiations on the peace process without further delay.

The European Union recalls that a just, lasting and comprehensive peace must meet the legitimate aspirations of both the Israeli and Palestinian people and must include Lebanon and Syria.

The European Union also calls on all States in the region to exert every effort to promote peace and to combat terrorism.

The European Union looks forward to an early meeting of the Quartet at Principals' level. The Quartet should play an active role in pursuing the goal of a comprehensive regional peace and encourage the parties to move ahead vigorously on the basis of the principles outlined above."

Brussels,05 04 2004
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