Stressing the need for the new Palestinian National Unity Government to commit to non-violence, the recognition of Israel and the acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, the Middle East Quartet – the diplomatic grouping that includes the United Nations – indicated that the Government’s commitment will be judged on its actions as much as its composition and platform.
In a statement released today, the members of the Quartet also endorsed the extension of a stop-gap measure for providing aid to the Palestinian people and voiced support for United States-led efforts to find a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The statement, which expressed hope that the creation of the new Government at the weekend would help end the recent deadly round of intra-Palestinian violence, was issued following a telephone discussion involving UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as well as representatives of the European Union, Russia and the United States, the other members of the Quartet.
It reaffirmed that a Palestinian Government must commit to Quartet principles, including the Roadmap, adding that “the commitment of the new Government in this regard will be measured not only on the basis of its composition and platform but also its actions.
“The Quartet expressed its expectation that the unity government will act responsibly, demonstrate clear and credible commitment to the Quartet principles, and support the efforts of President [Mahmoud] Abbas to pursue a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, thereby achieving the peace, security and freedom the Israeli and Palestinian people desire and deserve.”
The statement backed the continuation for another three months of the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM), the means devised last year by the EU and the World Bank to provide aid directly to the Palestinian people by bypassing the then Hamas-led Government, which had not committed to recognizing of Israel or renouncing violence.
TIM will continue while the Quartet “evaluates the situation and the international community works to develop a more sustainable international mechanism for support to the Palestinians.”
The Quartet – which agreed to meet soon, this time in the Middle East, to review developments – also voiced strong support for Ms. Rice’s efforts to facilitate further discussions between Mr. Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “with the aim of defining more clearly the political horizon for the establishment of a Palestinian State and an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
In addition to Mr. Ban, the Quartet principals participating in the telephone discussion were Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, High Representative for European Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner.
Mr. Ban leaves this week for the region and will visit Egypt, the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel and Jordan, and attend the Arab League Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 28 March, before going on to Lebanon. He will be back at UN Headquarters in New York on 2 April.