Representatives of the Quartet - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, High Representative for European Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, and European Commissioner for External Affairs Chris Patten - met today at the Dead Sea in Jordan.
The Quartet members review developments since their last meeting in Washington on December 20, 2002. They welcome the appointment of Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas and the strong start he and his government have made in difficult circumstances, and the acceptance by Israeli and Palestinian authorities of the Road Map presented to the parties on April 30, 2003, leading to realization of the goal, expressed by President Bush and shared by the Quartet members, of two states - Israel and Palestine - living side by side in peace and security, in 2005. They strongly endorse the results of the Red Sea Summit meetings and pledge to support actively Prime Minister Abbas and Prime Minister Sharon in carrying out the commitments made at these meetings.
They welcome the very positive message and personal commitment of President Bush, and his decision to place a mission on the ground charged with helping the parties to move toward peace, through establishment of a credible and effective structure led by the United States, in close cooperation with the Quartet, to coordinate, monitor and promote implementation of the parties' commitments and responsibilities, as laid out in the Road Map. The Quartet fully shares President Bush's expectation that both parties will meet their obligations in full, and welcomes the initial steps taken by the parties toward this goal.
The Quartet members deplore and condemn the brutal terror attacks against Israeli citizens carried out by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade since the Road Map's presentation. The Quartet calls for an immediate, comprehensive end to all violence and welcomes efforts by the Government of Egypt and others to achieve such an immediate and comprehensive halt to armed action by Palestinian groups. All Palestinian individuals and groups must end acts of terror against all Israelis, anywhere. The Quartet calls on the Palestinian authorities to take all possible steps to halt immediately the activities of individuals and groups planning and conducting attacks on Israelis. The Quartet supports immediate Palestinian action to restructure and consolidate, under Prime Minister Abbas, all security services, and calls on all states to assist in such efforts.
The Quartet welcomes the discussions between Israel and Palestinian authorities over transfer of security responsibility in Gaza and Bethlehem. They call on both sides to reach agreement as soon as possible on workable arrangements and timetables for implementation. The Quartet calls on all states in the region and around the world to end immediately any form of support, including fund-raising and financial assistance, to groups and individuals that use terror and violence to diminish the chances for peace, and calls for an end to all forms of incitement to violence and hatred.
The Quartet expresses its deep concern over Israeli military actions that result in the killing of innocent Palestinians and other civilians. Such actions do not enhance security and undermine trust and prospects for cooperation. While the Quartet recognizes Israel's right to self-defense in the face of terrorist attacks against its citizens, it calls on the Government of Israel to respect international humanitarian law and to exert maximum efforts to avoid such civilian casualties.
The Quartet also calls on the Government of Israel to make all possible efforts to support Palestinian authorities and ease the plight of the Palestinian people through immediate actions. The Quartet strongly urges Israel to facilitate movement of people and goods, as well as access by international humanitarian organizations. These steps must be taken as rapidly and comprehensively as possible to improve the humanitarian situation and normalize the daily life of the Palestinian people. The Quartet recalls its position that settlement activity must stop. In this context, it welcomes the undertaking made by Prime Minister Sharon at Aqaba, and first steps taken by Israel on the ground, to remove unauthorized outposts.
The Quartet members reviewed progress made on Palestinian institutional reform, endorsed the result of the meetings of the Task Force and Ad Hoc Liaison Committee held earlier in the year, and reaffirmed their support for all efforts to fulfill the reform goals set forth in the first phase of the Road Map - including adoption of a Palestinian Constitution and preparations for free, open and fair Palestinian elections as soon as possible.
The Quartet reaffirms its commitment to a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including progress toward peace between Israel and Syria, and between Israel and Lebanon. Such a peace would be based on the foundations of the Madrid Conference, the principle of land for peace, UNSCRs 242, 338 and 1397, agreements previously reached by the parties, and the initiative of Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah - endorsed by the Beirut Arab League Summit - calling for acceptance of Israel as a neighbor living in peace and security, in the context of a comprehensive settlement. The Quartet looks forward to continuing to work together in close consultation on these issues with the parties.