Middle East: strengthen the political position of the moderate Centre and promote concrete gestures of reconciliation. Joseph Daul MEP, Chairman of the EPP-ED Group
"The EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament has come to Israel and the Palestinian Territories with two messages: we must help the moderate parties to convince the population to make peace, despite the vast security and economic and social problems, and to achieve this, we need concrete gestures of reconciliation on both sides so that the Annapolis process has a real chance of success", declared Joseph Daul MEP, Chairman of the EPP-ED Group (centre-right) of the European Parliament, during a 3-day visit to Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The delegation, led by Joseph Daul, met with Israeli Parliamentarians from moderate parties in Jerusalem, and in particular from Prime Minister Olmert's party, Kadima, with which a decision in principle to create an agreement on political support and mutual cooperation was taken.
"In a region where insecurity and the frustrations caused by the major economic and social hardship play into the hands of extremist parties, the duty of our political family, the largest in Europe, is to give the moderate parties of the centre and centre-right as much political and organisational backing as they need. These parties have made the only worthwhile political choice: that of dialogue and peace. It is a brave choice, but electorally difficult. We will support them in this direction", said Daul who was accompanied by Vito Bonsignore MEP, Vice-Chairman of the EPP-ED Group in charge of the Euro-Mediterranean Policy, Jana Hybášková MEP, Chairwoman of the EP Delegation for Relations with Israel, Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament responsible for the Euro-Mediterranean Policy, Tokia Saïfi MEP, Chairwoman of the Committee on Political Security and Human Rights of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, as well as Elmar Brok MEP and José Ignacio Salafranca MEP, EPP-ED Group Coordinator in the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament.
The EPP-ED delegation also had a long exchange of views with several Members of the Government and with the President of Israel, Shimon Peres.
At the West Bank, Joseph Daul noted with satisfaction the real willingness of the Palestinian Members, but also of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas to go back to the negotiating table as stipulated in the Annapolis Agreement, and to do whatever it takes to try and find a just and workable compromise by the end of the year.
"All our high-level delegates, be they Israeli or Palestinian, assured us of their determination to seize the historic opportunity of Annapolis and the Donors' Conference in Paris. They expressed their acknowledgement of the solidarity conveyed by the international community, particularly the European Union which has, together with its Member States, provided more than half of the budgetary aid", Joseph Daul emphasised.
"We have received the message loud and clear from our delegates that Europe must assert its influence more, not only economically and financially, but also politically, especially with the US and the Quartet."
"We will pass this message on to the European and national leaders of our political family. In our European Parliamentary Group we will multiply our support for our moderate partners. In addition to our decisive action in the budget, the first gesture on our part will be to hold a meeting in the European Parliament with young moderate politicians from Israel and Palestine. We are convinced that the Middle East problem is also a question of mentality and of generation", concluded the Chairman of the EPP-ED Group.
The representative of the Quartet on the Middle East, Tony Blair, who met representatives of the EPP-ED Group in Jerusalem, congratulated them on their approach and initiatives.
(Translation from the original French)
For further information:
Joseph Daul MEP, Tel: +32-2-2847525
Antoine Ripoll, Chairman's Spokesman, Tel: +32-475-856290