Wien, 30. June 2006 Press release

Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the Middle East

30.06.2006

The European Union is extremely concerned about the situation which has evolved over the last days between Israel and the Palestinians and calls on all parties to abstain from any actions that are in violation of international law. It calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier. The European Union strongly condemns the murder of the Israeli victim of a kidnapping in the West Bank. It calls on the Palestinian leadership to bring an end to violence and terrorist activities, including the firing of rockets on Israeli territory.

The European Union expresses its particular concern about the detention of elected members of the Palestinian Government and legislature. Those detained should be accorded their full legal rights.

The European Union reminds all parties of their responsibility to protect civilian lives. Notwithstanding Israel’s legitimate right of self defence, ongoing military operations should be in accordance with international law. It calls on Israel to exercise the utmost restraint and to avoid disproportionate action. It regrets the destruction of essential infrastructure, which contributes to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Restoring electricity and water supplies and access for humanitarian organisations must be a priority now to avoid a humanitarian crisis.

The European Union emphasises the primacy of diplomatic means and calls upon all parties in the region to make every effort possible to resolve the current situation by peaceful means.

The European Union reaffirms its conviction that only a negotiated two-State solution can bring peace and security to the Israeli and the Palestinian people. A return to the peace process and to the implementation of the Roadmap is therefore imperative. The European Union asks that both parties meet their responsibilities and demonstrate urgently an active commitment to the search for a negotiated solution.