Middle East: reserved EU reaction to US approval of Sharon plans

The EU will not recognise any change to the pre-1967 Israeli borders unless both parties agree explicitly to the proposed changes. EURACTIV has collected international press comments.

EU Foreign Affairs Ministers will assess the outcome of the Wednesday's Middle East Summit between American President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon during their informal meeting in Tullamore, Ireland, on 16-17 April. In a press statement before this informal council, Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen re-confirmed the EU's commitment to the Road Map for the Middle East and stated that any change to the Israeli borders could only be the result of an agreement between both parties (Israelis and Palestianians). Mr. Cowen also stressed that any settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "must include an agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee issue".

In a separate press statement, EU High Representative for the CFSP, Javier Solana welcomed Mr Sharon's proposals but reiterated that the "EU remains committed to a negotiated agreement resulting in two viable, sovereign and independent States, Israel and Palestine, as the only way to achieve a permanent peace and an end to the occupation that began in 1967, in the framework of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Final status issues can only be resolved by mutual agreement between the parties."

Israel won US backing for its "disengagement" plan which foresees that Jewish settlements will be evacuated from Gaza but will leave settlements on the Westbank. The plan also does not support the right of return to Israel of Palestinian refugees.


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