Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2005-01-26-Speech-3-093"

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"Mr President, Commissioner, Mr Solana, the general impression which we gained from our experience as election observers is that the Palestinians managed beyond any doubt, and this is perhaps the first time such a thing has been possible under conditions of occupation, to hold democratic and free elections. This event constitutes a major political act, which sends political messages both to Israel and to the entire international community. On 9 January, the Palestinian people sent a clear message of dignity, of absolute attachment to democracy, peace and the fight for independence. The elections were held freely and democratically, with increased participation by women and young people, and for that they deserve congratulations. The problems, which related mainly to East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, were caused for two reasons: one reason was the stand of the Israeli authorities and the other reason was the – in our opinion – poor arrangement agreed between the Palestinians, the Israelis and the European Union in the 1996 agreement whereby, out of 120 000 voters, only 6 000 voted, sending their ballot paper via the Israeli post office, while the rest would have had to travel to other areas of the West Bank in the midst, moreover, of conflicting information. Nonetheless, the day after the election opens new prospects for the resumption of the peace process. The winner has declared and clearly expressed his intention to continue with a demilitarised, peaceful resolution of the problem based on international law, the UN resolutions and the roadmap. The new President, with the contacts which he had recently with the armed organisations, must have managed, we believe, to persuade them to proceed with a unilateral ceasefire, an action which we hope will lead to a truce which will break the vicious circle of violence and will be very helpful to the resumption of the peace process. He also appears to be prepared for a series of internal reforms aimed at economic, social and political development, despite the unfortunate circumstances which exist by reason of the occupation. At the same time, however, with the efforts which the Palestinian President has started to make in order to get the peace process restarted, signs of good intentions will also be needed on the part of the Israeli Government. Unfortunately, the construction of the wall, which was so roundly condemned by the international community, including in an opinion by the International Court, is still continuing, as are the settlements. On the basis of the roadmap, 2005 would be the year of the declaration of an independent Palestinian State. Nonetheless, 2005 is here, without any such prospect in sight. We, as the European Union and as the European Parliament in particular, have a very important role to play in efforts to resume talks and find a definitive solution to the problem. Over and above the theoretical level via resolutions and so on, we also need to find a more practical way of lobbying in all directions for material talks which will result during 2005 in significant progress and in a quick definitive solution to the problem, a solution which cannot but include the foundation of an independent Palestinian State in peaceful coexistence with the State of Israel and, of course, the destruction of the wall and an end to the occupation, so that the two nations can build a peaceful future which will contribute to peace and progress for the entire, long-suffering area of the Middle East as a whole. Finally, allow me once again, on behalf of my group, to assure the Palestinian people and the forces of peace in Israel that they will find in us supporters of their efforts for peace and a resolution to the problem."@en1

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