Statement by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia

May 17, 2004
Berlin, Germany.

I, on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, very much appreciated the opportunity to meet with US National Security Advisor, Dr. Condoleeza Rice. Our meeting was a welcome opportunity for Palestinians and Americans to discuss the means by which to reinvigorate the peace process and achieve our shared vision of a viable and free Palestinian state. 

During the meeting, I expressed the continued commitment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to the Road Map as a path for ending Israel’s 37-year military occupation. We discussed the steps that must be taken by all parties to implement the Road Map, including respect for law, parallel actions by both Israel and Palestinians and the strong role of third parties to monitor and ensure compliance with the Road Map. In addition to outlining the PA’s plan to hold elections, I also outlined the steps that the PA has taken and will continue to take to strengthen its capacity to more effectively ensure public security. The Palestinian Authority has requested the assistance of the United States on this matter.

I note, however, that peace and security for Palestinians and Israelis can only be achieved of Israel is committed to respecting human rights and international law. Since I have assumed office, Israel has taken a number of unlawful measures in the name of “security” that bring only insecurity and violence: Israel has killed 336 Palestinians, including 47 children (an average of 56 Palestinians per month); has erected over 700 barriers in the Occupied West Bank, preventing Palestinians from reaching their jobs, schools and hospitals and has taken over Palestinian homes to expand illegal Israeli settlements. In the last 17 days alone, Israel has made more than 2,100 Palestinian refugees homeless. These actions not only fuel extremism but they seriously undermine those who seek a peaceful resolution to Israel’s military occupation. I call on the United States to pressure Israel to stop its attacks on Palestinians and to end its policy of home demolitions.

The Palestinian Authority welcomes the Gaza Disengagement Plan, but only to the extent that the evacuation represents the first step to ending Israel’s occupation of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Consequently, the Israeli government would be ill advised to believe that in exchange for withdrawing from a few settlements in Gaza that it will be entitled to hold onto large settlements in the West Bank. Any effort at unilaterally imposing a solution on the Palestinians will fail. Bilateral negotiations are the only way to end this conflict.

Finally, I am encouraged by recent Quartet statements and the letter by President Bush which reaffirm that any final settlement must be negotiated and not imposed. The Palestinians are ready to resume negotiations with Israel to end the now 37-year military occupation and establish a Palestinian state that is side by side in peace with Israel.

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