'Quartet' calls on Israel, Palestinians to do more to revive Middle East peace plan

Middle East Quartet press conference

26 September 2003 – Voicing "great concern" at recent Israeli and Palestinian attacks that have stalled the Middle East peace process, a high-level meeting of the diplomatic Quartet of the United Nations, United States, Russian Federation and European Union (EU) today called on both sides to take immediate action to revive the so-called Road Map peace plan.

"Each party must do more to address, immediately and simultaneously, the core concerns of the other, as described in the Road Map," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, reading out a statement after the Principals-level meeting at UN Headquarters in New York with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, and an EU delegation comprising Foreign Minister Franco Frattini of Italy, which currently holds the EU Presidency, Chris Patten, External Relations Commissioner of the European Commission, and Javier Solana, EU High Representative for a Common Foreign and Security Policy.

"The Quartet members reaffirm their commitment to the Road Map and to resumed progress by the parties toward its rapid implementation," the statement added.

The Quartet plan calls for Israel and the Palestinians to take a series of parallel and reciprocal steps, including an end to Palestinian terror attacks and Israeli settlement activity in occupied territory and an easing of Israeli restrictions on the Palestinians, leading to two states living side by side in peace by 2005.

"I would like to take this opportunity to remind the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the entire international community that the only alternative to the two-state solution is long-term conflict and instability," Mr. Annan said, speaking in his own name after reading a summary of the Quartet's statement, and calling for bold steps.

In its statement, the diplomatic group took issue with recent actions by both sides. "The Quartet members condemn the vicious terror attacks of August and September. They call on Palestinians to take immediate, decisive steps against individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks," it said.

While recognizing Israel's legitimate right to self-defence in the face of terrorist attacks against its citizens, the partners called on Israel "to exert maximum efforts to avoid civilian casualties" and reaffirmed that "in accordance with the Road Map, settlement activity must stop."

They said they looked forward to continuing to work "closely together, as well as in association with regional parties, to help achieve progress between Israelis and Palestinians as well as toward the goal of a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East," and that they will meet again at the Principals level before the end of the year.

"It seems to me that bold steps, in keeping with the Road Map, are now necessary to salvage peace. Small steps, or interim solutions have not worked. They are unlikely to work in the future. Such actions should simultaneously address the core needs of both parties - security for Israelis and an end to occupation for the Palestinians. They should be firmly supported by an international presence," Mr. Annan said, speaking in his own name.

"Bold steps cannot be taken without the consent of the parties. Equally, the current dangerous impasse can only be broken through revitalized and active international involvement. I urge the international community to help both parties to shoulder their responsibilities to their peoples and the Road Map. If these steps are not taken, I believe that all of us will pay a heavy price," he concluded.

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