19 August 2005
GAZA PULLOUT IMPORTANT STEP TOWARDS PEACE; ASSISTANCE TO BE GIVEN TO DISPLACED OFWS – SECRETARY ROMULO
19 August 2005 – Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo said “the Philippines welcomes and supports efforts of the Israeli government to pullout of the Gaza Strip, which is an important step towards peace in the Middle East.” To ensure that the interest and welfare of Filipinos in Israel are protected, Secretary Romulo added that “the Department and the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv will provide assistance to Filipinos working in the Gaza Strip who may be affected by the pullout.”
Assessing the reports on the Gaza Strip pullout, Secretary Romulo stressed that “while this is an important step towards peace, it is our hope that Israel will carry out other actions that will eventually lead to an independent Palestinian state.”
The Secretary said that while the withdrawal is being characterized as a unilateral act on the part of the Israeli government, “it supports the principles that have been generally agreed upon in the Roadmap for Peace.”
The Quartet Roadmap for Peace was arrived at through the efforts of the U.S., the UN, Russia, and the European Union. “We continue to support the Roadmap for Peace and hope for a just, peaceful and meaningful solution to the conflict in the Middle East,” the Secretary said.
“The Philippines deeply regrets the recent killings in Gaza and hopes that the pullout will not be marred by further violence or deaths,” Secretary Romulo said.
The Secretary also expressed the hope that on their part, the Palestinian Authority will disarm Palestinian resistance groups in order to prevent any group from breaking the current ceasefire declared in the Sharm Al-Sheikh summit in February.
The Secretary said that the Filipino workers in the Gaza Strip who might be displaced would be given full assistance, “including repatriation, should our nationals choose to return to the Philippines.”
Secretary Romulo added that the Department is working closely with the Israeli government to ensure the welfare and safety of the Filipinos who might be affected. END