Division for Palestinian Rights
DEVELOPMENTS RELATED TO THE MIDDLE EAST

PEACE PROCESS

Issue 30   •   January-December 2015

Press Release by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the visit of its Secretary-General to the State of Palestine

Jeddah,  1 January 2015

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Statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini on the situation in Israel and Palestine

Brussels, 6 January 2015

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Press Release by the International Criminal Court on the accession of the State of Palestine to the Rome Statute

The Hague, 7 January 2015

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Press Release by the International Criminal Court on the opening of preliminary examination of situation in Palestine

The Hague, 16 January 2015

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Statement by the Spokesperson of the EU on Israel’s new announcement of settlement tenders

Brussels, 30 January 2015

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Statement by OIC Secretary-General welcoming Belgium Parliament’s resolution recognizing the State of Palestine

Jeddah, 8 February 2015

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Press Release by EU High Representative on a proposal for the appointment of the new EU Special Representative for Middle East Peace Process

Brussels, 16 March 2015

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Statement by EU High Representative welcoming Israel’s decision to resume transfer of PA’s tax revenues

Brussels, 27 March 2015

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Press Release by the International Criminal Court welcoming Palestine as new State Party

The Hague, 1 April 2015

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Comment by the Information and Press Department of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Israel’s settlement expansion plans

Moscow, 8 May 2015

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Chair’s Summary of the EU Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting of 27 May 2015

Brussels, 27 May 2015

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Press Release on the welcoming speech delivered by Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in the international seminar on peace between Palestinians and Israelis

Moscow, 1 July 2015

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Press Release by the Council of the EU on its conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process

Brussels, 20 July 2015

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Press Release by the U.S. Department of State on Israeli announcement of new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem

Washington, D.C., 29 July 2015

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Statement by the Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State on a terrorist attack in a Palestinian village

Washington, D.C., 31 July 2015

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Statement by EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah on demolitions in Area C and on construction work on the separation barrier at Cremisan

Jerusalem, 19 August 2015

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Press Release by the European Parliament on MEP’s pressure on the EU to come up with a bold peace initiative for the Middle East

Brussels, 10 September 2015

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Remarks by U.S. Secretary of State on the situation at Temple Mount/Al-Haram Al-Sharif

London, 19 September 2015

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Report of the Office of the Quartet for the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on action in support of Palestinian State-building

New York, 30 September 2015

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Statement by Palestinian President Abbas at the 70th session of the General Assembly

New York, 30 September 2015

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Readout of U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s calls with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas

Washington, D.C., 10 October 2015

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Press Release by the EU on the upcoming meetings of its High Representative with key interlocutors to discuss the latest tensions in the Middle East

Brussels, 21 October 2015

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Readout of U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Washington, D.C., 22 October 2015

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Opening Statement by EU High Representative on the situation in Israel and Palestine at the European Parliament plenary session

Strasbourg, 28 October 2015

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Press Release by the International Criminal Court on the visit of Palestinian President Abbas to the Court’s Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

The Hague, 30 October 2015

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Interpretative Notice by the European Commission on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967

Brussels, 11 November 2015

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Remarks by the U.S. Secretary of State on his meeting with Palestinian President Abbas

Washington, D.C., 24 November 2015

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Readout of the U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Washington, D.C., 24 November 2015

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Press Release by the EU on the visit of its Head of Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah to Hebron

Brussels, 15 December 2015

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Press Release by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the visit of its Secretary-General to the State of Palestine

Jeddah, 1 January 2015

On 1 January 2015, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation issued the following press release:

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Ameen Madani, shall visit the State of Palestine on Sunday, 4 January 2015. He shall both meet the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and inaugurate Al-Quds in Memory Exhibition in Ramallah organized by the Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), and the Palestinian Ministry of Culture under the auspices of Abbas. The exhibition will display historical pictures of the City of Al-Quds.

Madani will discuss with Abbas the current situation after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) rejected the draft resolution proposed by Jordan to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Moreover, he shall address the topics of bilateral cooperation between the OIC and the State of Palestine, and the various ways the OIC can follow to consolidate the efforts of the Palestinian people to regain their freedom and dignity, and to establish their independent state with Al-Quds Ash-Sharif as its capital.

In his first visit since taking office, the OIC Secretary General shall visit the Blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque on Monday 5 January 2015 and meet those in charge of the most important Palestinian service facilities in the City.

Statement by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini on the situation in Israel and Palestine

Brussels, 6 January 2015

On 6 January 2015, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission issued the following statement:

Recent steps taken by Palestinians and Israelis could aggravate the already tense situation on the ground and bring them further away from a negotiated solution. Both sides should refrain from taking actions which could raise obstacles to the rapid return to the negotiations.

The decision of the Israeli government to halt the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority runs counter to Israel's obligations under the Paris Protocol. An effective Palestinian Authority, committed to non-violence and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, is a key element for a two-State solution.

In this regard, the EU is providing considerable support, including financial assistance, to ensure the building of the institutions and infrastructure of a future Palestinian State. These achievements should not be put at risk by not meeting obligations regarding the timely and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues.

The European Union will promote and support now more than ever efforts to achieve a lasting peace based on a two-state solution, including through the Middle East Quartet.

Press Release by the International Criminal Court on the accession of the State of Palestine to the Rome Statute

The Hague, 7 January 2015

On the day after the deposit of the instrument of accession of the Rome Statute by the State of Palestine with the UN Secretary-General, the ICC issued the following press release:

On 7 January 2015, the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute ("the Assembly"), Minister Sidiki Kaba welcomed the deposit by the State of Palestine of the instruments of accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and to the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court (APIC), which were notified on 6 January 2015 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations acting in his capacity as depositary.

The deposit of the instruments of accession by the State of Palestine, effected on 2 January 2015, brings to one hundred twenty-three (123) the number of States Parties to the Rome Statute, and to seventy-four (74) the number of States Parties to the APIC.

Recalling the common resolve of the States Parties to work towards achieving universality and full implementation of the Statute, President Kaba stated:

"Each ratification of the Rome Statute constitutes welcome progress towards its universality. I call on all members of the United Nations to join this permanent and independent system of international justice to fight against impunity and prevent the most serious crimes under international law, which is based on the principle of complementarity with domestic jurisdictions."

On a related development, the Government of Palestine accepted, by means of a declaration under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, the ICC jurisdiction since 13 June 2014. On 7 January 2015, the ICC Registrar addressed a letter to the government of Palestine accepting this declaration and transmitted it to the Prosecutor for her consideration.

Press Release by the International Criminal Court on the opening of preliminary examination of situation in Palestine

The Hague, 16 January 2015

On 16 January 2015, succeeding the accession of the State of Palestine to the Rome Statute and the State’s declaration under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, the ICC issued the following press release:

On 16 January 2015, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine.

The Prosecutor's decision follows the Government of Palestine's accession to the Rome Statute on 2 January 2015 and its declaration of 1 January 2015, lodged under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute – the Court's founding treaty – accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC over alleged crimes committed "in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014."

Upon receipt of a referral or a valid declaration made pursuant to article 12(3) of the Statute, the Prosecutor, in accordance with Regulation 25(1)(c) of the Regulations of the Office of the Prosecutor, and as a matter of policy and practice, opens a preliminary examination of the situation at hand. Accordingly, the Prosecutor has opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine. The Office will conduct its analysis in full independence and impartiality.

/…

The Office previously conducted a preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine upon receipt of a purported article 12(3) declaration lodged by the Palestinian National Authority on 22 January 2009. The Office carefully considered all legal arguments submitted to it and, after thorough analysis and public consultations, concluded in April 2012 that Palestine's status at the United Nations (UN) as an "observer entity" was determinative, since entry into the Rome Statute system is through the UN Secretary-General (UNSG), who acts as treaty depositary. The Palestinian Authority's "observer entity", as opposed to "non-member State" status at the UN, at the time meant that it could not sign or ratify the Statute. As Palestine could not join the Rome Statute at that time, the Office concluded that it could also not lodge an article 12(3) declaration bringing itself within the ambit of the treaty either, as it had sought to do.

/…

On 2 January 2015, Palestine deposited its instrument of accession to the Rome Statute with the UNSG. As outlined in the Summary of Practice of the Secretary-General as Depositary of Multilateral Treaties, "the Secretary-General, in discharging his functions as a depositary of a convention with an 'all States' clause, will follow the practice of the [General] Assembly in implementing such a clause […]." The practice of the UNGA "is to be found in unequivocal indications from the Assembly that it considers a particular entity to be a State." In accordance with this practice and specifically UNGA Resolution 67/19, on 6 January 2015, the UNSG, acting in his capacity as depositary, accepted Palestine's accession to the Rome Statute, and Palestine became the 123rd State Party to the ICC.  It was welcomed as such by the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute.

Likewise, on 7 January 2015, the Registrar of the ICC informed President Abbas of his acceptance of the article 12(3) declaration lodged by the Government of Palestine on 1 January 2015 and that the declaration had been transmitted to the Prosecutor for her consideration.

The Office considers that, since Palestine was granted observer State status in the UN by the UNGA, it must be considered a "State" for the purposes of accession to the Rome Statute (in accordance with the "all States" formula).  Additionally, as the Office has previously stated publicly, the term "State" employed in article 12(3) of the Rome Statute should be interpreted in the same manner as the term "State" used in article 12(1). Thus, a State that may accede to the Rome Statute may also lodge a declaration validly under article 12(3).

For the Office, the focus of the inquiry into Palestine's ability to accede to the Rome Statute has consistently been the question of Palestine's status in the UN, given the UNSG's role as treaty depositary of the Statute. The UNGA Resolution 67/19 is therefore determinative of Palestine's ability to accede to the Statute pursuant to article 125, and equally, its ability to lodge an article 12(3) declaration.

Statement by the Spokesperson of the EU on Israel’s new announcement of settlement tenders

Brussels, 30 January 2015

On 30 January 2015, after the announcement of settlement tenders by Israel, the Spokesperson of the EU released the following statement:

Today's announcements of settlement tenders, if implemented, will further undermine the viability of the two-State solution; they are illegal in international law and constitute an obstacle to peace.

Israel should reverse these decisions, thereby putting an end to settlement expansion.

The decisions risk inflaming the very tense situation on the ground.

All sides need to exercise maximum restraint and avoid taking any decision that could exacerbate tensions.

Statement by OIC Secretary-General welcoming Belgium Parliament’s resolution recognizing the State of Palestine

Jeddah, 8 February 2015

On 8 February 2015, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) issued the following statement:

The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Ameen Madani, welcomed the decision by the Belgian parliament to recognize the State of Palestine. He described it as an important move that would contribute to peace and stability in the region, even as it constitutes a support for the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people including the establishment of sovereignty of their independent state on the 1967 borders with Al-Quds Ash-Shareef as its capital.

The Secretary General expressed his hope that the Belgian government would take the initiative to recognize the State of Palestine in accordance with the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 29 February 2012.

Press Release by EU High Representative on a proposal for the appointment of the new EU Special Representative for Middle East Peace Process

Brussels, 16 March 2015

On 16 March 2015, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs issued the following press release:

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, has proposed the appointment of new Special Representatives to support the work of the European Union on two important foreign policy files. The candidates have been endorsed by EU Member States in the Political and Security Committee today pending a final decision by the Council.

Fernando Gentilini has been proposed as EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process for an initial period of one year, in an effort to re-launch the Process as quickly as possible. Mr Gentilini is currently Director for Western Europe, the Western Balkans and Turkey in the European External Action Service and is a former EU Special Representative in Kosovo. He has also been assisting the High Representative in facilitation of Serbia Kosovo dialogue.

/…

Peter Burian has been proposed as EU Special representative for Central Asia for an initial period of one year, with the task of ensuring continued EU high-level engagement in the region. Mr Burian is currently State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. He is a former ambassador of the Slovak Republic to NATO, to the United States and to the United Nations. Mr Burian takes over in the role of EUSR from Janos Herman, appointed Special Envoy to the region in 2014 following the resignation of EUSR Patricia Flor.

/…

The EU currently has seven EUSRs dealing with different topics, countries and regions of the world (Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Horn of Africa, Human Rights, Kosovo, Sahel, South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia). The EUSRs promote the EU's policies and interests in specific regions and countries and play an active role in efforts to consolidate peace, stability and the rule of law.

They support the work of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, in the regions and on the issues concerned. They play an important role in the development of a strong and effective EU Foreign and Security Policy. They provide the EU with an active political presence in key countries and regions.

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Statement by EU High Representative welcoming Israel’s decision to resume transfer of PA’s tax revenues

Brussels, 27 March 2015

On 27 March 2015, subsequent to Israel’s decision to release tax revenue that was frozen since January in response to Palestine’s application to Rome Statute, the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini made the following statement:

I welcome Israel’s decision to resume the transfer of the Palestinian Authority’s tax revenues.

The European Union has been pressing for this step, without which the Palestinian institutions' capacity to govern risked being fatally undermined. Finally after three months, this step will ensure vital relief for thousands of Palestinian Authority workers and their families.

Press release by the International Criminal Court welcoming Palestine as new State Party

The Hague, 1 April 2015

On 1 April 2015, the International Criminal Court issued the following press release:

The International Criminal Court (ICC) held a ceremony on 1 April 2015 at the seat of the Court in The Hague (the Netherlands) to welcome the State of Palestine as the 123rd State Party to the Rome Statute, the ICC's founding treaty.

During the ceremony, the ICC's Second Vice-President, Judge Kuniko Ozaki, presented the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine, Dr. Riad Al-Malki, with a special edition of the Rome Statute, as a symbol of their joint commitment to the rule of law.

The ceremony was held in the presence of the President of the Assembly of States Parties, H.E. Sidiki Kaba, a number of ICC Judges, ICC Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart and ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel.

Vice-President Kuniko Ozaki stated: "Accession to a treaty is, of course, just the first step. As the Rome Statute today enters into force for the State of Palestine, Palestine acquires all the rights as well as responsibilities that come with being a State Party to the Statute. These are substantive commitments, which cannot be taken lightly."

The President of the Assembly of States Parties, H.E. Sidiki Kaba, declared that "such highly symbolic commitment confirms, once again, that people all over the world embrace the noble ideals of the ICC, that are ideals of peace and justice for all."

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine Dr. Riad Al-Malki said: "As Palestine formally becomes a State Party to the Rome Statute today, the world is also a step closer to ending a long era of impunity and injustice. Indeed, today brings us closer to our shared goals of justice and peace."

Comment by the Information and Press Department of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Israel’s settlement expansion plans

Moscow, 8 May 2015

On 8 May 2015, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation issued the following comment:

The Israeli authorities have reportedly approved plans to build around 900 new homes in the Ramat Shlomo settlement in a suburb of East Jerusalem on the Israeli-occupied part of the West Bank.

Moscow has reiterated its principled approach, which is based on the United Nations resolutions on the issue, that Israel’s settlement activity on Palestinian territories is illegal. This latest step threatens to damage efforts towards creating conditions for the resumption of sustained talks between the parties.

Chair’s Summary of the EU Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting of 27 May 2015

Brussels, 27 May 2015

On 27 May 2015, the AHLC held a meeting in Brussels which was summarized by the Chair as it follows:

AHLC members and other major donor countries met in Brussels today, at a meeting hosted by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini. The chair, Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende, welcomed Prime Minister Hamdallah and commended the parties, the UN, the World Bank, the IMF and the Quartet Representative for their reports and contributions.

The AHLC convened in a situation with considerable uncertainty about the prospects for resuming the negotiations for a two-state solution to end the conflict. The AHLC reaffirmed its commitment to an independent, democratic and sovereign state of Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. The financial assistance aims to underpin the political process by supporting the building of sustainable institutions for a

Palestinian state. The donors emphasised that it is urgent to take steps to rebuild trust and help create the conditions necessary for resuming future negotiations.

The reports from the UN, the World Bank and the IMF described how the financial situation of the Palestinian Authority has deteriorated. The Gaza war, ongoing constraints on the Palestinian economy in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, the lack of political progress, the withholding of Palestinian clearance revenues, as well as insufficient contributions from donors have resulted in a contraction of the Palestinian economy.

/…

Donors took note of recent steps of the Government of Israel to allow exports from Gaza to both the West Bank and Israel. They concurred with the report from the Office of the Quartet Representative in that the Palestinian private sector could respond effectively once restrictions on movement and access are lifted. The full economic potential can be unleashed only when access is assured for Palestinian activity also in Area C.

/…

The AHLC concluded that the Palestinians will need high levels of budget assistance during the coming years, and called on the donors to respond to this need. Assistance should not be diverted from the West Bank towards the reconstruction of Gaza, and assistance to Gaza should be channelled through the PA. Without a resumption of the political process to end the occupation, however, the PA’s financial situation will become unmanageable.

On this basis the AHLC:

• Calls on the parties to take steps to rebuild trust and help create the conditions necessary for resuming future negotiations; and reaffirms its readiness to continue its support for building and consolidating the institutions needed for a Palestinian state;

• Calls on donors to increase their assistance to meet the budget needs of the Palestinian Authority for 2015, as well as for the reconstruction and reintegration of Gaza – with due regard to burden sharing;

• Reiterates the need for substantial and sustained removal of obstacles to the movement of people and goods, as well as obstacles to development, trade and exports in the West Bank and Gaza, including in Area C and East Jerusalem; and welcomes the announcement by Israel of further steps in this direction;

• With reference to the Paris Protocol, calls on the parties to strengthen the dialogue on all economic issues including clearance revenues; and reminds of the obligation to transfer the revenues in a predictable, unconditional and transparent manner;

• Welcomes the commitment of the Palestinian Authority to sustain their fiscal restraint and reforms, to reduce the deficit, and to further enhance the business environment in line with the recommendations of the World Bank and the IMF;

• Urges all Palestinian factions to facilitate the resumption of governance over Gaza by the Palestinian Authority, calls on the PA to display the necessary leadership, and reaffirms its readiness to assist in making this happen;

• Agrees to reconvene in New York in September of 2015 in the margins of the UN General Assembly.

Press Release of the welcoming speech delivered by Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs in the international seminar on peace between Palestinians and Israelis

Moscow, 1 July 2015

On 1 July 2015, at the international seminar on peace between Palestinians and Israelis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation delivered the following speech:

I’d like to welcome all participants in the international seminar on peace between Palestinians and Israelis, which was organised by the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Russia has consistently worked to achieve a fair Palestinian-Israeli settlement as soon as possible on a universally recognised international legal basis, in part, by implementing the Madrid principles, relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative and earlier agreements. Mutually acceptable accords should ensure the formation of an independent, contiguous and viable Palestinian state that will co-exist in peace and security with Israel.

We welcome the stance of the Palestinian leaders, which they have reaffirmed repeatedly – that there is no alternative to negotiations. We are pleased to note that the leader of the new Israeli government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressed support for a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem twice in the past month. We hope that this position will be backed by practical steps. For our part, we will continue facilitating the resumption of talks – both via bilateral channels and at different international venues, first and foremost, in the format of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators.

It is necessary to monitor the situation in the Gaza Strip where the population continues to experience serious humanitarian difficulties. There is considerable demand for steps aimed at lifting or at least easing the blockade. We consider it important to provide Palestinians with the resources pledged by the participants in the International Conference on Palestine, “Reconstructing Gaza”, that took place in Cairo last October, and to provide them on time. Russia strongly supports the efforts to unify Palestinian ranks on the basis of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Arab Peace Initiative.

It is in the interests of the international community for Palestine to acquire national sovereignty, which will help strengthen peace and stability in the region. I am confident that your meeting will also make a contribution to our common efforts.

/…

Press Release by the Council of the EU on its conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process

Brussels, 20 July 2015

On 20 July 2015, the Council of the European Union issued the following press release:

1. The EU reaffirms its commitment to a just and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two state solution, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign, and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security and mutual recognition. The EU reaffirms that there is no alternative to a negotiated two state solution. The regional context, including the ongoing radicalisation and spread of terrorism, makes it even more urgent to end the conflict. The status-quo is not an option, as the viability of the two state solution is constantly being eroded by new facts on the ground. The EU urges both parties to demonstrate their stated commitment to the two state solution through concrete actions. Actions by either side which call into question their stated commitment to a negotiated solution must be avoided. The EU will actively support the parties to restore confidence and create an environment of trust necessary to engage in meaningful negotiations as soon as possible.

2. An immediate priority must be to address the grave situation in the Gaza Strip. One year after the conflict, the humanitarian and socio-economic situation in the Gaza Strip remains dire. In light of the urgent needs of the people in Gaza, all international community pledges should be honoured. The EU furthermore expresses its concern over UNRWA's severe lack of funds and, as a leading donor to UNRWA, calls on all concerned donors to step up their funding. The EU believes that compliance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law by states and non-state actors, including accountability, is a cornerstone for peace and security in the region.

3. The EU welcomes recent steps taken by Israel to ease restrictions in Gaza. However, further positive measures are now needed that enable the full delivery of humanitarian aid, reconstruction and economic recovery on a permanent basis. The EU calls for a fundamental change of the political, security and economic situation in the Gaza Strip, including the end of the closure and a full opening of the crossing points, while addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns. Recent rocket fire by militant groups is unacceptable and underlines again the danger of escalation. All stakeholders must commit to non-violence and peace. The EU calls on all parties to agree on a durable ceasefire that prevents a return to conflict, strengthens Gaza, as it is an integral part of a future Palestinian state, and reinforces the link between Gaza and the West Bank.

4. The EU urges all Palestinian factions to find common ground, based on non-violence and reconciliation, and to work together to address the needs of the Palestinian population. Intra-Palestinian reconciliation is an important element for reaching the two state solution. In that regard, the EU calls on the Palestinian factions to make reconciliation and the return of the PA to Gaza a top priority. The PA must take greater responsibility in this regard and assume its government function in the Gaza Strip, including in the field of security, civil administration and through its presence at the Gaza crossing points. The EU is ready to provide full support to these efforts, including through the rapid reactivation and possible extension in scope and mandate of its EUBAM Rafah and EUPOL COPPS missions.

5. The EU is committed to working with all sides,  including through implementation of existing agreements, to allow the socio-economic development of  the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and empower Palestinian institutions in preparation for statehood, based on the rule of law and respect for human rights. The EU stresses that actions such as the easing  of restrictions must be part of a fundamental change of policy with regard to the occupied Palestinian territory. It calls on Israel to enable accelerated Palestinian construction, as well as social and economic development in Area C. Such actions will serve to strengthen the prosperity and security of both Israelis and Palestinians. It further calls on Israeli authorities to halt plans for forced transfer of population and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure in the Susya and Abu Nwar communities.

6. The preservation of the viability of the two state solution is at the core of EU policy and will remain a priority. In this regard, and recalling that settlements are illegal under international law, the EU reiterates its strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy and actions taken in this context, such as building the separation barrier beyond the 1967 line, demolitions and confiscation – including of EU funded projects – evictions, forced transfers including of Bedouins, illegal outposts, settler violence and restrictions ofmovement and access. These actions seriously threaten the two state solution. Settlement activity in East Jerusalem seriously jeopardizes the possibility of Jerusalem serving as the future capital of both states. The EU will continue to closely monitor developments on the ground and their broader implications and remains ready to take further action in order to protect the viability of the two state solution. The EU and its Member States reaffirm their commitment to ensure continued, full and effective implementation ofexisting EU legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlement products. The EU expresses its commitment to ensure that – in line with international law – all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

7. Securing a just and lasting peace will require an increased common international effort. The EU, notably through the action of its recently appointed Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, will work actively on a renewed multilateral approach to the peace process in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including partners in the Quartet, notably the US, in the region and the United Nations Security Council. The establishment of an International support group is a possible way to contribute to this end; the Council asks the High Representative to explore options for implementation of this initiative with regional and international actors and to report back in early September. The EU's position on parameters, as set out in the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions of July 2014, provides a basis for achieving consensus on the way forward. The EU is ready to engage in joint work with regional partners on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative, and welcomes ongoing efforts of the Quartet in this regard.

Press Release by the U.S. Department of State on Israeli announcement of new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem

Washington, D.C., 29 July 2015

On 29 July 2015, the U.S. Department of State issued the following press release:

We are deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s announcement today of the advancement of nearly 300 new housing units in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, as well as hundreds of new housing units in East Jerusalem. The United States continues to view settlements as illegitimate and we strongly oppose steps to advance construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Settlement expansion threatens the two-state solution and calls into question Israel’s commitment to a negotiated resolution to the conflict. We continue to urge the Israeli government to refrain from unhelpful actions that undercut the possibility of a two-state solution.

Statement by the Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State on a terrorist attack in a Palestinian village

Washington, D.C., 31 July 2015

On 31 July 2015, the Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State released the following press statement:

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms last night’s vicious terrorist attack in the Palestinian village of Douma. The arson attack on a family’s home in the dead of the night resulted in the death of an 18 month-old baby and the injury of three other family members. We convey our profound condolences to the Dawabsheh family and extend our prayers for a full recovery to those injured.

We welcome Prime Minister Netanyahu’s order to Israel’s security forces to use all means at their disposal to apprehend the murderers for what he called an act of terrorism and bring them to justice. We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this tragic incident.

Statement by EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah on demolitions in Area C and on construction work on the separation barrier at Cremisan

Jerusalem, 19 August 2015

On 19 August 2015, the EU local missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah released the following statement:

The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah are deeply concerned by an increasing number of demolitions of Palestinian structures in Area C in recent days.

The demolitions on 17 August in four localities in the Jerusalem periphery directly affected 78 people including 49 children, according to UN figures the largest displacement in a single day since December 2012. These localities are all in or close to the planned E1 settlement and affect particularly vulnerable Palestinian communities.

A further 42 people including 27 children were displaced by demolitions in Fasayel, North of Jericho on 18 August. Both demolitions took place at the height of a heat-wave further exacerbating the situation of the communities concerned.

The missions are also concerned at the beginning of works for the construction of the separation barrier in the Cremisan valley on 17 August with the uprooting of trees in an ancient olive grove. If built, the barrier will severely restrict access of 58 Palestinian families to their agricultural land and profoundly affect their livelihoods.

EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah recall the Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions of 20 July 2015, in which the EU called on Israel for a fundamental change of policy with regard to the occupied Palestinian territory. It also reiterated its strong opposition to Israel's settlement policy and actions taken in this context, such as building the separation barrier beyond the 1967 line, demolitions and confiscation – including of EU funded projects – evictions, forced transfers including of Bedouins, illegal outposts, settler violence and restrictions of movement and access.

Press Release by the European Parliament on MEP’s pressure on the EU to come up with a bold peace initiative for the Middle East

Brussels, 10 September 2015

On 10 September 2015, the European Parliament issued the following press release:

Parliament called on Thursday for a fresh EU approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The EU must fulfil its responsibilities as an influential player and take a bold and comprehensive peace initiative for the region, MEPs said, regretting the lack of a comprehensive and coherent vision of the EU's engagement in the Middle East Peace Process, despite its ambitions there.

Parliament calls for the resumption of credible peace efforts without delay and says that EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and EU Special Representative Fernando Gentilini must make better use of EU member states' political and institutional expertise on the region to play a genuine political role in the peace process. MEPs stress that only non-violent means and respect for human rights and humanitarian law can achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

Rights of civilians come first

"Preserving the viability of the two-state solution through concrete action and ensuring full respect for the rights of civilians on both sides must be an immediate priority for the EU and the international community", MEPs say, underlining that the EU is ready to engage with regional partners on the basis of the Arab Peace Initiative. They also suggest that the Quartet's aims should be refocused on finding a political solution to the conflict.

Rehabilitating Gaza – a humanitarian aid priority

Ending the blockade of the Gaza Strip, its urgent reconstruction and rehabilitation following the 2014 summer war must be a humanitarian aid priority for the EU and the international community, MEPs urge the EU and other donors to live up to their promises to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), which has been under serious financial stress.

They also call for the EU Border Assistance Mission EUBAM Rafah to be reactivated "with a more ambitious mandate and adequate means" to "play a concrete role in the control of the Gaza Strip's borders with Egypt and Israel."

The resolution was passed by 525 votes to 70, with 31 abstentions.

Remarks by U.S. Secretary of State on the situation at Temple Mount/Al-Haram Al-Sharif

London, 19 September 2015

On 19 September 2015, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made the following remarks:

…Let me just say a quick word, if I can, about one other issue of great importance. In the last days, President Obama talked with King Salman of Saudi Arabia regarding the events that have transpired in the Temple Mount, the Haram al-Sharif. And Vice President Biden talked with King Abdullah of Jordan, and I talked directly with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel. And all of us join together in urging everybody to keep the calm, to keep the peace, to adhere to the status quo, which is an understanding of the jurisdiction of King Abdullah in Jordan with respect to access to the Temple Mount and the rules by which everybody will engage and respect for the religious observances and rights with respect to that particular place.

And we hope that in the days ahead, and the conversation I had with the prime minister of Israel, he made it very clear that he is completely supportive of the status quo and deeply committed to preventing the – any kind of incident that will incite. And he and I and others join together with President Obama in calling on everybody else – the Palestinians, Arabs, anybody – that all parties need to refrain from incitement and refrain from engaging in activities that put that relationship at risk.

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Report of the Office of the Quartet for the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on action in support of Palestinian State-building

New York, 30 September 2015

On 30 September 2015, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee held a meeting in New York for which the Office of the Quartet submitted the following report:

This report provides an update on developments relevant to the work of the Office of the Quartet (OQ). It highlights areas of OQ's work that are supporting Palestinian economic growth and institution building, focusing on issues concerning movement and trade, as well as infrastructure issues, and the impact they have on shaping the Palestinian economy.

Since the last AHLC, the Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR) has transitioned to the Office of the Quartet (OQ). The mandate of OQ remains unchanged, continuing to focus on economic and institutional development in the West Bank and Gaza, addressing issues related to strengthening investment in the Palestinian private sector, rule of law, and movement and access. OQ continues to focus its priorities on bringing about tangible improvements to help advance the Palestinian economy, thereby helping to preserve the viability of a two-state solution.

1. Executive Summary

Twenty years after the signing of the interim agreements, we are at a perilous juncture. Palestinian-Israeli negotiations have not resumed since they were suspended in April 2014. There is uncertainty over political transitions in the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation process has not advanced, leaving Gaza and the West Bank disconnected. Gaza is no closer to the basic infrastructure it needs to support its redevelopment. Escalating tension in East Jerusalem further threatens an already precarious status quo. The absence of a clear political horizon presents an increasingly challenging context within which to sustain the Palestinian economy.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has managed its fiscal situation despite a prolonged period of crises. The PA is coping with dramatic reductions in budget support and increasing demand for public services, while trying to advance its reform agenda. Low investment in productive assets, underdevelopment of infrastructure, and declines in net exports exacerbate an already large balance of payment deficit. The West Bank is experiencing declining income per capita, rising unemployment, and higher poverty, while Gaza continues to endure recurrent humanitarian and economic catastrophes.

In the absence of a political solution, there are meaningful steps that can be taken to shift the status quo and work to build the institutions and economy of a viable state. Growth in the Palestinian economy will remain severely limited as long as disproportionate Israeli administrative and security measures continue. Concrete actions must be taken to bring about positive change throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Improvements in movement and access, as well as other economic empowerment measures, will help boost private sector activity, create more employment opportunities, and promote stability. Actions should focus on both structural issues — in particular the economic relations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel — as well as the promotion of key projects that can bring about economic and institutional development. Such actions are not intended to be a replacement for a two-state solution but rather to create an environment conducive to restarting a negotiations process.

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6. Conclusion

This is a crucial period for all those individuals and institutions dedicated to a two-state solution — we must form a resolute center. In the absence of an optimistic political horizon, it is essential to deliver concrete progress that is immediate, material, and tangible. Such progress can create drivers for renewed political dialogue, and help move the political direction away from the "old politics" of violence, recrimination, and polarization.

It is with this intention that we move forward in definitive spheres of activity, particularly around the issues of movement, trade, and infrastructure, which are gaining traction among key decision-makers and underpin economic development. OQ is encouraged to see that many of our partners among the Israeli, Palestinian, and international community are determined to search for new ways forward. To make lasting progress we must come together and work as a community. It is time for a new period, one in which we strengthen dialogue and cooperation in support of Palestinian economic growth and translate good words and fine intentions into actions that transform lives.

The Office of the Quartet works to support the Palestinian people on economic development, rule of law and improved movement and access for goods and people, as they build the institutions and economy of a viable and peaceful state in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

The mandate of OQ focuses on economic and institutional development in the Palestinian Territory, addressing issues related to strengthening investment in the Palestinian private sector, rule of law, and movement and access. OQ works in coordination and complementarity with bilateral and multilateral partners that implement technical assistance programs in the Palestinian Territory. As such, OQ plays an important role in advancing tangible steps on the ground to advance the Palestinian economy, and preserve the possibility of a two-state solution.

Statement by Palestinian President Abbas at the 70th session of the General Assembly

New York, 30 September 2015

On 30 September 2015, at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, President Abbas made the following statement:

I come before you today from Palestine, compelled to sound the alarm about the grave dangers of what is happening in Jerusalem, where extremist Israeli groups are committing repeated, systematic incursions upon Al-Aqsa Mosque, aimed at imposing a new reality and dividing Al-Haram Al-Sharif temporally, allowing extremists, under the protection of Israeli occupying forces and accompanying ministers and Knesset members, to enter the Mosque at certain times, while preventing Muslim worshipers from accessing and entering the Mosque at those times and freely exercising their religious rights.

This is the scheme that the Israeli Government is pursuing, in direct violation of the status quo since before 1967 and thereafter. By doing so, the occupying Power is committing a grave mistake, because we will not accept this, and the Palestinian people will not allow the implementation of this illegal scheme, which is aggravating the sensitivities of Palestinians and Muslims everywhere.

I call on the Israeli Government, before it is too late, to cease its use of brutal force to impose its plans to undermine the Islamic and Christian sanctities in Jerusalem, particularly its actions at Al-Aqsa Mosque, for such actions will convert the conflict from a political to religious one, creating an explosive in Jerusalem and in the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

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Continuation of the status quo is completely unacceptable because it means surrender to the logic of the brute force being inflicted by the Israeli Government, as it continues its illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank, especially in Occupied East Jerusalem, and continues its blockade of the Gaza Strip, deepening the immense suffering of our people there, in defiance of United Nations resolutions and the agreements signed between the two sides under international auspices. We recall here the words of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1976, when he stated that Israel will become an apartheid State if it continues its occupation of the Palestinian Territory and described the Israeli settlements on Palestinian land as "cancer".

The persistence of this matter prompts us to ask: do the votes by democratic countries against Palestine-related resolutions and the legitimate rights of our people serve peace and those who believe in the two-State solution? Or do they serve and encourage extremists and increase their hatred and racism, making them believe that they are above the law, to the point where they commit the burning of a Palestinian family in the town of Duma in the West Bank, claiming the lives of an infant, Ali Dawabsheh, and his father and mother? What is left of this family is an orphan child, Ahmed, 4-year old, who lies between life and death in the hospital as a result of his burns, while the killers remain free and have not yet been arrested.

This is not the first crime. Before, they burned alive and killed the Palestinian child, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, in Jerusalem, and the child Mohammed Al-Dura in Gaza, and before them thousands have been killed in Gaza and the West Bank. And, we still remember the Deir

Yassin massacre and all of the crimes against our people that have passed without punishment. For how long will Israel remain above international law and without accountability?

Due to the time constraints, I shall not be able to discuss in detail how many Israeli violations are being committed against our people and how many repressive laws have been issued by successive Israeli governments, the latest of which is the formal legislation of instructions to fire live ammunition at and arrest and repress peaceful Palestinian demonstrators, as it continues to impose this illegal occupation.

/…

Several European countries and parliaments also affirmed their recognition of the State of Palestine, reaffirming our natural right to independence. In this regard, we thank the Kingdom of Sweden for its courage and recognition of the State of Palestine. Indeed, the countries that say they support the two-State solution must recognize the two States, not just one.

Today, I appeal to those countries that have not yet recognized the State of Palestine yet, to do so. We are confident that they will do so, based on conviction in the justice deserved by our people and their cause.

From this rostrum at the United Nations and in this period of religious holidays, I also extend a sincere call to the people of Israel for peace based on justice, security and stability for all. I must also call again on the Security Council and the General Assembly to uphold their responsibilities before it is too late and the chances for peace are lost.

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We welcome the international and European efforts, including the French initiative calling for the formation of an international support group for the achievement of peace. In their recent summit, the Arab States confirmed their support for a resolution by the Security Council that reaffirms the clear parameters for a peaceful solution in accordance with the two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders and that sets a timeframe for ending the occupation. It is no longer useful to waste time in negotiations for the sake of negotiations; what is required is to mobilize international efforts to oversee an end to the occupation in line with the resolutions of international legitimacy. Until then, I call upon the United Nations to provide international protection for the Palestinian people in accordance with international humanitarian law.

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I must reiterate: the current situation is unsustainable. Our people need genuine hope and need to see credible efforts for ending this conflict, ending their misery and achieving their rights. We will start the implementation of this declaration by all peaceful and legal means. Either the Palestinian National Authority will be the conduit of the Palestinian people from occupation to independence, or Israel, the occupying Power, must bear all of its responsibilities.

At the same time, and based on our commitment to the principles of international law, the State of Palestine will continue in its efforts to accede to international conventions and organizations, and it will move forward in the defense of its people under occupation through all available legal and peaceful means, including as a High Contracting Party to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Those who fear international law and international courts must cease committing all crimes.

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Readout of U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s calls with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas

Washington, D.C., 10 October 2015

On 10 October 2015, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas and the Office of the Spokesperson issued the following media note:

Secretary Kerry spoke separately with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas today to express his deep concern over the recent wave of violence and offer his support for efforts to restore calm as soon as possible. He reiterated the importance of strongly condemning violence and combating incitement, and taking affirmative steps to reduce tensions. He again stressed the importance of upholding the status quo in word and deed at the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount and of preventing inflammatory rhetoric and actions that will increase tensions. He made clear he will continue to follow the situation closely and that the U.S. will remain engaged in efforts to restore calm.

Press Release by the EU on the upcoming meetings of its High Representative with key interlocutors to discuss the latest tensions in the Middle East

Brussels, 21 October 2015

On 21 October 2015, the European Union issued the following press release:

The long stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the crises in Syria and in the entire region will be at the centre of a series of meetings that Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, will have in the coming days. Tomorrow, Federica Mogherini will be in Berlin to meet the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US Secretary of State John Kerry and the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Furthermore, the HRVP plans to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the coming days.

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Readout of U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Washington, D.C., 22 October 2015

On 22 October 2015, the Office of the Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State released the following readout:

Secretary Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary Kerry had a lengthy and constructive meeting. They discussed the security situation in Israel and the West Bank and the region, as well as the situation at Jerusalem's Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.

A number of constructive proposals were suggested‎, including steps Israel could take to reaffirm yet again the continued commitment to maintaining the status quo at Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.

Both agreed on the need to stop incitement, reduce tension and restore calm. The Secretary will be meeting on Saturday with King Abdullah of Jordan and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and will convey and further explore these ideas.

Opening Statement by EU High Representative on the situation in Israel and Palestine at the European Parliament plenary session

Strasbourg, 28 October 2015

On 28 October 2015, the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini delivered the following opening statement at the plenary session of the European Parliament:

/…

But it is mostly up to the political leaders on the two sides to get out of the current impasse and to show leadership. Most of all to show leadership, showing leadership is much more difficult when the situation gets more difficult, but it's also when it's more needed. Both leaderships have responsibility to contain the situation of violence and to promote calm. They have an interest in doing this for their own people and they have a general responsibility towards the region, and I would say towards the rest of the world, to make sure that the situation doesn't inflame on the religious level and gets spread or across the globe.

Last week I met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and just yesterday evening in Brussels I met with President Abbas to pass exactly the same message: you need to take leadership, strong positions and try to calm down the situation on the ground first and foremost and the international community will and will be with you in this respect. They acknowledged that they need to work together in partnership to end the current unrest. And this is something relevant, but also something that needs to be tested for real.

Our thoughts today and in these days are with all the victims and their families who are suffering on the ground. But as we try to de-escalate the crisis, we must not lose sight of the underlying causes of tensions – the frustrations, the sense of insecurity, the lack of hope, the lack of political horizon. Without a political horizon, any de-escalation that we might even get, will only last for a limited time and we will go back again, and again, and again to the cycle of violence.

We have said this last year at the end of the conflict of Gaza, we are here a year later saying the same.

Our first priority must be to build the conditions for final status talks based on mutual steps. For this to happen, we need significant policy shifts on the ground, and we need these policy shifts to happen in line with past agreements that are there and need to start being implemented. We have to find an entry point to have the process restarting again. When we say this, it is not just a reference to restarting the political process, restarting the talks, restarting negotiations, we all know very well, and the Israeli and the Palestinian people know that very well that talks for talks, negotiation for negotiation would not bring anything real on the ground, unless we in parallel create the conditions, the real conditions, for the people first of all to live and secondly to live better in their respective lives.

When we talk about this, we talk about concrete steps in the context of a political process. De-escalating, the security aspect, violence, implementing concrete steps on the ground in line with prior agreements and creating the condition for political horizons, these are the elements we need to work in parallel on with the support of the international community.

We talk about measures that help the Palestinians take control over their lives, while upholding Israel's security. Not just for negotiating, not just for the sake of doing something, but to reach concrete results.

These two goals must be pursued in parallel: de-escalation on the ground, concrete steps to implement agreements that have already been signed, that are there already and keeping the perspectives of the political horizon of the final settlements.

/…

From this recent round of meetings, including with Secretary of State Kerry in Berlin, I retain the commitment of Prime Minister Netanyahu to guarantee the status quo of the holy sites and the desire of all parties to de-escalate the situation on the ground. I also welcome and support Secretary of State Kerry's initiative to address the situation in the holy sites, highlighting the role of Jordan in this, which is key.

In the next few weeks the Quartet Envoys will engage directly with the parties. It is now up to the Israeli and the Palestinian leadership to demonstrate with acts that their commitment to the two-state solution is real, and not just fake, not just a slogan. If Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas fail now to work together, if they don't cooperate to stop the violence, if they don't rebuild a credible political process – the situation for their own people will only get worse and worse.

The regional context is as tense as it could be.

/…

Recent events should serve as a warning. If anyone still believes that we can just manage the current crisis, contain it a little bit and wait for the next one to come, they are wrong. This is not going to continue like this. Every cycle of violence is going to be worse than the previous one and this will destroy the Middle East. So, now it's decision time. Israeli and Palestinian leaders will have to take courageous choices, difficult ones. But this is the only path they have towards peace. They can either move forward, or watch chaos prevail in their own societies.

/…

We have to find this entry point, because talks for talks, the big horizon – today, I don't see the conditions. Internally, the two societies need to allow the leaderships to invest credibly in this, while the security situation is at it is and while the confidence needs to be built.

So we need to find first and foremost this entry point, making sure that at the end of the process the two-state solution is preserved and not pre-judged, but we have to start, we have to help them start implementing issues on the ground that can deliver for the people, for the ordinary people that today are seeing their children dying on both sides, with different numbers, but on both sides, to start having a future in their lands. Thank you.

Press Release by the International Criminal Court on the visit of Palestinian President Abbas to the Court’s Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

The Hague, 30 October 2015

On 30 October 2015, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court issued the following press release:

Today, Friday 30 October 2015, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal ("ICC" or the "Court"), Mrs Fatou Bensouda and representatives of her Office received H.E. Mr Mahmoud Abbas, the President of Palestine and his delegation at the Seat of the Court in The Hague, Netherlands. The meeting was held in the margins of President Abbas' official visit to the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

Referring to the recent escalation of tensions in Israel and Palestine, the Prosecutor stressed the need for calm and restraint from all sides, and an end to the violence. She underscored that innocent people have been injured and killed on both sides, and cautioned that the situation may further degenerate into a large-scale commission of crimes that may fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

The Prosecutor opened a preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine in January 2015. In this context, the Prosecutor stated that her Office will also examine whether any of the newly reported incidents of violence constitute crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC, and for the same purpose, will continue to record any new instances of violence or incitement to violence that may occur in the future. She warned that anyone – on either side – who commits, orders, incites, encourages or contributes in any other way to the commission of crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC is liable to prosecution either at the national level or at the Court.

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Interpretative Notice by the European Commission on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967

Brussels, 11 November 2015

On 11 November 2015, the European Commission of the European Union issued the following interpretative notice:

(1) The European Union, in line with international law, does not recognise Israel's sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, namely the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and does not consider them to be part of Israel's territory, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law. The Union has made it clear that it will not recognise any changes to pre-1967 borders, other than those agreed by the parties to the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP).

(2) The application of existing Union legislation on indication of origin of products to products originating in Israeli-occupied territories has been the subject of notices or guidance adopted by the relevant authorities of several Member States. There is indeed a demand for clarity from consumers, economic operators and national authorities about existing Union legislation on origin information of products from Israeli-occupied territories. The aim is also to ensure the respect of Union positions and commitments in conformity with international law on the non-recognition by the Union of Israel's sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967. This notice also aims at maintaining open and smooth trade, is not hindering trade flows and should not be construed to do SO.

(3) This Notice does not create any new legislative rules. While this Notice reflects the Commission's understanding of the relevant Union legislation, enforcement of the relevant rules remains the primary responsibility of Member States. According to the case-law, while the choice of penalties remains within their discretion, Member States must ensure that penalties for infringements of provisions of Union law are effective, proportionate and dissuasive. The Commission ensures, as guardian of the Treaties, compliance with these obligations of Member States if need be by way of infringement proceedings. This Notice is without prejudice to other requirements established by Union legislation, and to the interpretation which the Court of Justice may provide.

(4) Several pieces of Union legislation currently provide for mandatory indication of origin of the product in question. The requirement often relates to the designation of the "country of origin", but sometimes other expressions, such as the "place of provenance", for foods, are also used'. Subject to any specific provision to the contrary in the relevant provisions of Union legislation, in principle determination of the country of origin of foods will be based on the Union's non-preferential rules of origin laid-down in customs legislation.

(5) When the indication of origin of the product in question is explicitly required by the relevant provisions of Union law, it must be correct and not misleading for the consumer.

(6) When the indication of origin is not mandatory, if the origin is provided on a voluntary basis, the information must be correct and not misleading for the consumer.

(7) Since the Golan Heights and the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) are not part of the Israeli territory according to international law, the indication 'product from Israel' is considered to be

(8) To the extent that the indication of the origin is mandatory, another expression will have to be used, which takes into account how these territories are often known.

(9) For products from Palestine that do not originate from settlements, an indication which does not mislead about the geographical origin, while corresponding to international practice, could be 'product from the West Bank (Palestinian product), 'product from Gaza' or 'product from Palestine'.

(10) For products from the West Bank or the Golan Heights that originate from settlements, an indication limited to 'product from the Golan Heights' or 'product from the West Bank' would not be acceptable. Even if they would designate the wider area or territory from which the product originates, the omission of the additional geographical information that the product comes from Israeli settlements would mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product. In such cases the expression 'Israeli settlement' or equivalent needs to be added, in brackets, for example. Therefore, expressions such as 'product from the Golan Heights (Israeli settlement)' or 'product from the West Bank (Israeli settlement)' could be used.

(11) In any event, in accordance with Union consumer protection legislation, indication of origin becomes mandatory when, as regards food, the omission of that information would mislead the consumer as to the true origin of the product, and, as regards all other goods, when information is omitted that is material, according to the context, to take an informed transactional decision and thereby causes or is likely to cause the average consumer to take a transactional decision that he would not have taken otherwise. In such cases the examples in previous paragraph would be relevant.

(12) Information on origin is often available to economic operators in various forms. In many cases information on the origin of products can be found on customs documentation. If they benefit from preferential treatment on importation, the products will be accompanied by proof of preferential origin issued by Israel, or by the Palestinian authorities. Other documents such as invoices, delivery notes and transport documents may provide an indication of the origin products. If the information is not readily available from accompanying documents, economic operators may request information on origin, directly from their suppliers or importers.

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Remarks by the U.S. Secretary of State on his meeting with Palestinian President Abbas

Washington, D.C., 24 November 2015

On 24 November 2015, after meeting President Abbas, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made the following remarks:

Just to make a very brief statement. We had a long and very constructive and serious conversation with President Abbas, and I want to say that I know that the situation for Palestinians in the West Bank, in Jerusalem, in Gaza is, at this moment, very dire, that there are extraordinary concerns, obviously, about the violence. And I want to make it very, very clear tonight that I am here at the request of President Obama to see what we can do to try to help contribute to calm and to restore people’s confidence in the ability of a two-state solution to still be viable, to be achieved at some point. We are committed to that, two states with two peoples living side by side in peace and security, and President Obama and the United States will continue to work as hard as possible to achieve that end.

Readout of the U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu

Washington, D.C., 24 November 2015

On 24 November 2015, the Office of the Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State delivered the following readout on Secretary Kerry’s meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu:

Secretary Kerry and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed bilateral and regional security issues, with a focus on Syria and Daesh. They discussed steps that can be taken to stop the violence in Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank and improve conditions on the ground.‎ They also discussed ways in which the United States and Israel could further strengthen their security cooperation, in the face of regional instability.‎ Secretary Kerry expressed sympathy and condolences for victims of recent terror attacks.

Press Release by the EU on the visit of its Head of Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah to Hebron

Brussels, 15 December 2015

On 15 December 2015, the European Union issued the following press release:

European Union Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah visited Hebron on 15 December 2015. They met the Governor, the Mayor, the Deputy Head of Mission for the Temporary International Presence in Hebron and representatives of Palestinian civil society and international organisations. The objective of this visit was to gain a first-hand impression of developments and to express concern at the deteriorating situation in Hebron. The EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah call for immediate measures to reduce tension, restore calm, and move quickly to restart a credible political process.

The group started the visit at the Governor's Office where they were briefed by Hebron Governor Kamel Hmeid and the Mayor Daoud Zaatari on the recent developments in Hebron. The diplomats visited then the Temporary International Presence in Hebron where they met the Deputy Head of Mission, Maggiore Stefano Nencioni. They were also briefed there by a delegation from the Hebron Chamber of Commerce. Later on, the group met representatives of a number of Palestinian civil society and international organisations at the Hebron Rehabilitation committee.

"The situation in Hebron is alarming and underlines the urgent need for a political solution to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis which must allow everybody to live in peace and dignity. Both sides have to do their utmost to de-escalate the situation, promote calm, and avoid actions which can further fuel tensions", said the EU Representative Ralph Tarraf on the occasion of the visit.

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