Middle East Apr02

Meeting of Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers in Valencia of 22/23 April 2002

Khanbhai (PPE-DE). -Mr President, almost all ordinary citizens of Israel wish to live in peace in their own country. They wish to have a country with secure borders and normal diplomatic relations with all its Arab neighbours. How can we help extinguish the fire that has devastated Palestine and reduced the people to a life of humiliation, fear and deprivation of the basic amenities of life?

Jewish people, Muslims and Christian Palestinians worked and lived together for centuries before Israel was established. The Jewish people dreamt about their own country and they got it, and rightly so. The Palestinians, both Muslims and Christians, dream and wish to have their country as well and they will not rest until they have a secure and viable state based on a just and fair settlement. How can the EU help?

Let us stop being polite and politically correct. To my delight today is the first time in my two and a half years as an MEP that I have heard Members of this House address this topic with such confidence. We have been gagged for all this time. Let us spell out what is needed for such a fair and just settlement; things that we all believe in but are too afraid to say. Firstly, Israel must have the right to exist with a secure border and it must be fully recognised as a state by all its neighbours. Secondly, Israel must respect international law and its own national laws, as well UN Security Council resolutions. Thirdly, Israel must accept neutral international observers under UN sponsorship to facilitate a cease-fire.

Ordinary people, Jews, Muslims and Christians, are fed up with their politicians. They want peace now. Let us help them with courage and confidence and say clearly what most of us privately believe, that for Palestine to be a viable state, to allow that state to take back the millions of refugees, there is only one border and that is the border as it was before 1967. That is what Israel has to pull back to. Until that happens there will be no peace in the Middle East and that brings the terror, fear and difficulties that we now see in the European Union.

It is time that we spelt out the way it should be.