Re-launching the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — Challenges and vision

FAO Headquarters, Rome, 22 and 23 March 2007



1. The United Nations International Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace was held at the Headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, on 22 and 23 March 2007, under the auspices of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people.  Participants in the Meeting included international experts, representatives of Governments, Palestine, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations system entities, parliaments, civil society and the media.

2. The Meeting was convened by the Committee with a view to supporting and promoting international efforts aimed at achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians, focus the world community’s attention on the question of Palestine, and emphasize the importance and urgency of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through ending the occupation, and the establishment of an independent State of Palestine based on the pre-1967 borders, living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security.  In three plenary sessions, the participants discussed the significance of peace in the Middle East for the advancement of the dialogue between cultures and civilizations; the role of parliaments in promoting dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians; and the urgency of restoring momentum to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and forging a vision of a final settlement.

3. The Meeting was held at a time when the Mecca agreement and the resulting national unity government, having succeeded in moderating the internal Palestinian situation, raised hopes that the long-stalled peace process would soon resume.  The participants welcomed the formation of a Palestinian government of national unity, and expressed the hope that this development would allow the international community to restore the much-needed economic and humanitarian assistance and help move the political process forward.  Participants also expressed a view that the international community had an obligation to support the new Government without preconditions and lift the aid restrictions imposed on it.  They called on the parties, regional actors and the Quartet to intensify efforts that would result in an appreciable progress in the Middle East peace process.  In that regard, the participants noted the emerging international consensus in favour of the political process addressing, without further delay, the permanent status issues, rather than provisional or interim arrangements.

4. The participants emphasized that the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a threat to international peace and security and was increasingly becoming a key symbol of a perceived rift between the Western and the Islamic societies.  The participants further stressed that the lack of progress in Middle East peacemaking and, most notably, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had exacerbated feelings of frustration and mutual mistrust that was fueling extremism on a local, regional and world scale.  They also felt that it was often based on distorted interpretations of religious motives, aimed at transforming a political problem into a cultural and religious divide, and at disrupting the dialogue and interchange across cultures and civilizations.  On a broader level, the participants emphasized that the voice and influence of religious leaders in efforts aimed at overcoming differences, misconceptions and misunderstandings between Western and Islamic societies was key to promoting the dialogue between cultures and civilizations.  The participants were convinced that a solution to this conflict would greatly contribute to fostering such a dialogue.  

5. The participants discussed in detail the important role played by national parliaments and inter-parliamentary organizations in promoting a comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the question of Palestine.  They viewed the experience and political influence of lawmakers and their organizations as instrumental in informing public opinion and setting policy guidelines, as well as in strengthening international law, democratic process and institution-building.  They also encouraged new initiatives to bring together Israeli and Palestinian parliamentarians.  Participants called for the immediate and unconditional release of all Palestinian parliamentarians currently in Israeli prison.  As the participants saw the need for formulating a regional approach to resolving the question of Palestine, the role of regional organizations took a particular prominence.  They supported the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and the Barcelona process as important initiatives aimed at strengthening dialogue for peace and stability in the wider region.

6. The participants expressed the hope that the parties would overcome the remaining differences in their quest for a final settlement, and noted the firm basis for such a settlement provided by the relevant resolutions of the United Nations bodies, the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference of 1991 and its principles, the 2002 Peace Initiative of the Arab League and the Road Map.  The growing prominence of diverse international and regional actors and initiatives was discussed at length, with a particular attention accorded to the role of Europe.  The participants also supported calls for convening an international peace conference on the Middle East.

7. The participants reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with regard to the question of Palestine until it was resolved in all aspects in a satisfactory manner in accordance with international law and legitimacy.