Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are at a decisive moment for the two-state solution, for respect of international law and for the multilateral system. They are all linked. And they all matter.
I was able to discuss recently in the White House in Washington the thinking on the way forward.
In our view a lasting peace will not be reached via unilateral acts, the annexation of occupied territory or continued settlement construction. Nor can it be attained without democratic renewal and greater accountability on the Palestinian side.
More than ever, securing the future and legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority, bringing Gaza and the West Bank back together and creating the basis for a future Palestinian state require our political attention and financial support. The EU has always been a reliable and predictable partner and our key policy positions have not changed. We do not see an acceptable alternative to the two state solution. We remain committed to UNRWA. In 2018, we were the largest single donor to UNRWA and this year we again frontloaded our regular contribution, to ensure UNRWA sustainability, while stepping up our assistance to reform of the organisation.
AND, since we continue to consider Jerusalem as the future capital for two states, we support the Palestinian character of East Jerusalem, as demonstrated through our increased annual allocations. The EU is continuing to contribute around 340 million euros a year, last year with 145 million for Gaza alone. But this level of EU cooperation is obviously linked to the perspective of a two state solution. We cannot just finance an unsustainable status quo, or worse, the dismantling of the very possibility of a future Palestinian state.
We are all aware of the fiscal crisis the PA is facing and of the potential human, social and security consequences. Both sides need to move towards a solution.
Israel’s decision to withhold clearance revenues violates current arrangements.
At the same time, we do not support the system of Palestinian payments to “prisoners and martyrs.”
We are ready to work with the Palestinian Authority to see how beneficiaries of the current scheme could be integrated on the basis of need rather than any other criteria into the PA’s regular social allowance system.
Should the PA and Israel not find a way out and should the PA's fiscal situation so require, we would be ready to offer, as an interim measure, to any state, including Israel, to use the EU’s PEGASE system of direct financial support to channel funds, in the secure knowledge that they benefit vetted individuals, including those that are in Gaza.
And, aside from the current short term issue, we also need to see real discussions between the parties to bring the Paris Protocol arrangements in line with the realities of the present day.
Gaza needs sustainable solutions not endless injections of humanitarian aid. This is why the EU has invested in the water and energy sectors.
This morning, we co-chaired with the PA and the Islamic Development Bank an information session on the Gaza Central Desalination Plant. There is good progress, a demonstration that common ground between the PA and Israel creates conditions in which the international community can support long-term solutions that meet shared security needs, development and humanitarian concerns.
Despite the agreements reached on this project, I would like to point to the the analytical work by the World Bank on the the negative economic impact of the current dual use regime. The EU consolidated list on dual use goods is internationally recognised and could provide a useful way forward.
As I say every time we meet, the best intentions by donors cannot deliver the results that could be achieved by progress on Palestinian reconciliation and on conditions of movement and access. These are the true keys to tackling the structural impediments to Palestinian development.
Thank you for your attention.