Comments from Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner after her meeting with Prime Minister Sharon
10 November 2005
European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, held talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (10 November) as part of her visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, following her participation in the Prime Minister’s economic conference.
The Commissioner underlined that opening the Rafah border crossing was an urgent priority. The EU is seeking a clear mandate for the EU 3rd party presence that has been invited to monitor the crossing. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said
"It is important that the outstanding decisions on this border mission should be taken swiftly. It is in the interests of both parties to see the normalisation of border traffic and an improvement in living conditions in Gaza. This initiative is an important key to maintaining momentum after Gaza withdrawal – we should not let momentum slip away."
She also emphasized the importance of maintaining and strengthening dialogue with the Palestinians at every level.
Regarding the EU’s relationship with Israel under the Neighbourhood Policy, the Commissioner welcomed Prime Minister Sharon’s commitment to the joint Action Plan. She said
"We are putting a lot of energy into delivering on our pledges to Israel in this Plan. The scope for elevating our relationship is enormous. We have already made progress in a number of areas, and we are already looking at how Israel could be associated more closely with EU programmes and agencies."
The Commissioner stressed that the Barcelona Process 10th Anniversary Summit offers an opportunity for Israel to show its commitments and engage in new ways, with the support of the EU, with its Euro-Mediterranean partners.