Select Committee on European Union Twenty-Sixth Report


FOREWORD—What this Report is about

Recent violent events in the Middle East demonstrate once again the desperate problems for both peoples in the Israel/Palestine dispute and in the wider region. At the beginning of 2007 moves by actors in the region and by the US and EU gave reason to hope that progress might be made in the peace process. The EU's role in taking the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) forward is the particular subject of this report.

Our Inquiry has revealed the EU's extensive political involvement in the central Israel/Palestine dispute as a member of the Quartet (UN, US, Russia, EU). Moreover the EU provides financial assistance both to the Palestinian Authority and directly to the Palestinian people, with the aim of sustaining the existing institutions and building capacity for the future Palestinian state under the plans for a two state solution.

Though the US has led the politics, the EU has made a significant policy contribution, not least by taking a lead in producing imaginative ideas, including the two state solution, which were subsequently adopted by the Quartet and the Arab League. We believe the EU has an important role in the policy sphere which should be maintained. At the same time the EU and the Member States individually should act more closely in concert on both political and economic aspects; and the EU should press on the US the importance to the region of sustained US engagement in the MEPP.

We found that the boycott by key members of the Quartet of the National Unity Government (NUG) in the Palestinian territories had damaged the prospects for a viable Palestinian state. We suggest that a more flexible approach would have been preferable, whilst reaffirming the importance of the three Quartet principles.

We believe that the EU should be prepared to strengthen its relationship with Israel in the context of progress in the peace process. The EU should use all the instruments at its disposal, including the European Neighbourhood Policy.

We welcome the greater engagement by Saudi Arabia and other Arab League states and believe the EU should support their recent initiatives. We recognise the importance of the EU's continuing its engagement with Syria. We consider that the EU should give full support to the government of the Lebanon in its efforts to sustain the independence and territorial integrity of the country.

We conclude that the EU should not allow the peace process to be held hostage by any faction, individual, or state and should resist attempts by extremists on both sides to derail the process. Nor should the events of June 2007 be used as an excuse for inaction. Indeed the EU needs to increase and sustain its efforts to work more closely with all the main players towards an inclusive peace process and settlement.

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