Brussels, 4 October 2006
Summary of address by
EU High Representative for the CFSP,
to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee
Brussels, 4 October 2006
The following is a summary of the remarks made by Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on 4 October 2006:
There have been dramatic developments over the past few days. The situation in Gaza and in the West Bank is explosive. Violent armed clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas last Sunday. Several people have been killed. One Hamas leader was killed today by Palestinians in the West Bank.
Efforts to calm the situation are continuing, by various parties – including parties in the region and us – to consolidate the calm. The potential for further deterioration of the situation still exists in spite of the efforts exerted.
Qatar yesterday proposed a six-point plan aimed at reducing the tension. It proposes a new government with a different prime minister. This will probably not fly but it is a good attempt from an active Arab country.
President Abbas is expected to take decisive decisions to overcome the current crisis. There has been no agreement so far between him and Hamas on the formation of a unity government. But there is serious talk of a unity government formed of qualified nationals. If this is not possible, there is the possibility that President Abbas will call early elections. I think this would complicate things.
The Quartet met the week before last in New York and it issued a good, clear statement, welcomed by the parties, using European language, welcoming the Palestinian efforts to form a government of national unity. Let us hope that, from now on, the Quartet can play a more active role. We must give momentum to the efforts to make Israel-Palestine conflict the centre of gravity because if this is not solved the rest of the conflicts in the Middle East cannot be solved.
I intend to go myself to the Middle East soon, after my two trips to Lebanon during the summer conflict.
The EU has been helping Palestine both politically and economically. Without external political and economic support, the situation in the Palestinian Territories may deteriorate beyond recovery.
So far this year the EU'sh support for the Palestinians already exceeds the total amount for 2005 despite Hamas' ascent to power. But we should do more. We are determined to do more.
The Rafah crossing point, on the border between Palestine and Egypt, has been closed for most of the time since the abduction of the Israeli soldier. We have tried very hard to have it open at least for a few hours in the day. We are also looking at the possibility of setting up a similar operation to the EUBAM Rafah mission on the border between Palestine and Israel.