Minister Cowen welcomes results of Aqaba Summit
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, T.D., welcomed the outcome of yesterday's summit meeting in Aqaba, Jordan between US President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.
The outcome gives grounds for hope that the peace process can now recommence on the basis of the Roadmap for a Two-State Solution, which was presented to the parties on 30 April by the Quartet grouping (US, UN, Russia and the EU).
The Minister welcomed the reiteration by PM Abbas of the Palestinian rejection of terrorism and violence against all Israelis, as well as his call for an end to the violence of the 33 month old intifada. The Minister also welcomed Israeli PM Sharon's acceptance of a future Palestinian State, which would have territorial contiguity. He acknowledged PM Sharon's decision to begin the dismantlement of settlements which are illegal under Israeli law. He expressed the hope that these moves represented the first steps towards a lasting settlement based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338 and the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, affirmed in Resolution 1397.
The Minister applauded the “courageous decisions” of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders which, he said, “merit the support of all governments and of peace-loving people everywhere”. He also acknowledged President Bush's personal commitment to the Roadmap and welcomed his leadership in driving forward the peace process. He remarked that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its repercussions pose the greatest single threat to international peace and security and its resolution must be the immediate priority of the entire international community.”
The Minister continued, “the statements made at Aqaba yesterday are an immensely important step in revitalising the peace process. I look forward to seeing both sides swiftly putting their commitments into practice, so as to start the immediate implementation of the provisions of the Roadmap. We are now witnessing a long awaited opportunity for bringing an end to the decades of conflict which have afflicted Israeli and Palestinian alike. It must not be missed. I also look forward to the extension of the revived peace process to include all parties concerned. We and our partners in the European Union, as members of the Quartet, are ready to do what we can to assist all sides in living up to their responsibilities. Hard choices and tough decisions will have to be made, but if all sides are truly committed then the reward is worth the compromise: an Israel, recognised within its borders and secure in its Jewish identity having arrived at a just settlement of the refugee problem, living alongside a sovereign, independent, and viable Palestinian State and its other neighbours in peace and shared prosperity.”