EU positions on the Middle East peace process

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process


The EU’s objective is a two-state solution with an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel and its other neighbours.


EU positions on “final status issues”


Borders: the EU considers that the future Palestinian state will require secure and recognised borders. These should be based on a withdrawal from the territory occupied in 1967 with minor modifications mutually agreed, if necessary, in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242, 338, 1397, 1402 and 1515 and the principles of the Madrid Process.  


Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory: on 8 December 2008 the EU confirmed its deep concern about recent accelerated settlement expansion. This expansion prejudges the outcome of final status negotiations and threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution. The EU considers that settlement building anywhere in the occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law.


Jerusalem: the EU considers that the peace negotiations should include the resolution of all issues surrounding the status of Jerusalem. The EU supports institution building work in East Jerusalem, notably in the areas of health, education and the judiciary.


Palestinian refugees: the EU supports a just, viable and agreed solution on this question. We will respect an agreement reached between the two Parties on this point. Since 1971 the EU has been providing significant support to the work of agencies providing vital services to the Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). It is committed to adapting this support as appropriate, in pursuit of a just and equitable solution to the refugee issue.


Security: the EU condemns all acts of violence which cannot be allowed to impede progress towards peace. The EU recognises Israel’s right to protect its citizens from attacks, but emphasizes that the Israeli Government, in exercising this right, should act within international law. Since 2005, the EU has been involved in supporting the development of a democratic and professional Palestinian police force (see below).


EU policymaking from the “Venice Declaration” to the Annapolis process

The EU has set out its policy on the Middle East in a series of high level public statements. For example, the Venice Declaration of 1980 recognised the right to security and existence for all states in the region including Israel, and the need to fulfil the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. The Berlin Declaration of 1999 included anexplicit commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state. The Seville Declaration of June 2002 introduced specific details of the final status solution, as set out above.


In June 2002, the EU co-sponsored the Roadmap for Peace, a three-stage process for achieving these objectives. The Roadmap emphasises the need for Palestinian institution-building and economic recovery with a view to enhancing the strength and viability of the future Palestinian state. This “state-building process” requires sustained engagement on the part of the international community. It also requires urgent improvement on issues related to freedom of movement in the occupied Palestinian territory. The EU has repeatedly called for the immediate freezing of settlement activities and the proactive dismantling of outposts as set out in the Roadmap.


From 2007 onwards, the EU actively supported the “Annapolisprocess” which committed the Israelis and the Palestinians to implement Roadmap obligations and to reach a peace agreement by the end of 2008. In November 2007: an EU Action Strategy for the Middle East Peace Process was tabled by Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner and High Representative Solana, setting out a range of ways in which the EU can support the peace process, and the conditions which are necessary for our support to be effective. (doc to be uploaded).


Unfortunately, although negotiations took place throughout 2008 in the framework of the “Annapolis process”, agreement could not be reached by the agreed deadline. In December 2008 EU Heads of State and Government made a statement stressing that a comprehensive peace in the Middle East remains a top priority for 2009; they praised the Arab Peace Initiative as a basis for regional peace; and called on the new US administration to engage from day one.


Recent statements on the Middle East

- 15 March 2010: Speech by HR Catherine Ashton: 'A Commitment to Peace - the European Union and the Middle East' Arabic  


- 26 January 2009: Statement by EU Foreign Ministers on the Middle East Peace Process .


- 9 January 2009: UN Security Council Resolution 1860 , calling for an immediate ceasefire.


- 30 December 2008 EU Foreign Ministers discuss the Gaza crisis and set out three priorities for action: an immediate ceasefire; urgent humanitarian action for the people of Gaza; and a return to peace talks as soon as possible.


- 16 December 2008: UN Security Council Resolution 1850 is adopted in New York. This calls for the continuation of the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, for the implementation of Roadmap obligations, for Palestinian reconciliation and for support from the international community, including the possibility of an international conference in Moscow.


- 11 December 2008, European Council declaration stresses that progress towards comprehensive peace in the Middle East remains a urgent priority for 2009. The Declaration indicates that the EU will do everything practically and political possible in order to push for peace. It praises the Arab Peace Initiative and calls on the new US administration to engage from day one.


- November 2007: an EU Action Strategy for the Middle East Peace Process is tabled by Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner and High Representative Solana. This document sets out the range of ways in which the EU can support the peace process, and the conditions which are necessary for our support to be effective.