September 25th, 2007 10:57 EST
Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov at the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today's meeting assumes special importance. It is held at the time when the Israeli-Palestinian relations and inter-Palestinian affairs have reached, in many respects, a defining phase. Both the situation on the Palestinian track of the Middle East settlement, and the future of the entire peace process substantially depend on how the events will develop.
From our point of view, the persisting deep divide among the Palestinians is without doubt a negative factor. One can hardly deny that the current crisis in the Palestinian Authority not only destabilizes the internal situation, but also hampers the prospects for a durable political settlement with Israel.
The negotiation process itself between Palestinians and Israel shows signs of revival even if so far it has not brought tangible results. At the same time, a promising factor is that the contacts between M.Abbas and E.OImert have taken on a regular character, and both the Palestinian and Israeli leaders have already begun - though in a general format – to discuss the conceptual aspects of future bilateral relations, including the issues related to the creation of the Palestinian state.
It is clear that it takes a long way to go from declarations of intent to their genuine implementation. I believe that you will agree that this issue significantly depends on the determination of the negotiators, and the effectiveness of the external support to the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The specific steps which the international community can and must undertake in this regard were discussed at length yesterday with the participation of the quartet, its Special Envoy and the Arab League’s follow up committee.
I think we came closer to making sure that the international meeting in Washington later this fall will be a serious, substantive and representative event, and that while concentrating on the Israeli-Palestinian track, it should be seen in the context of the comprehensive Middle East settlement, and I assure the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority S.Fayad and the Israeli Foreign Minister Tz.Livni that we shall work towards its success.
International assistance to the Palestinians is welcome and crucial right now, especially because of the grave socio-ecomonic crisis in Palestine. The de-facto isolation of Gaza would only exacerbate the appalling humanitarian situation in this PNA territory.
The worst may happen – the sector can turn into a “maximum security prison” for one and a half million people. Is that an adequate price for political preferences of the Palestinian electorate?
As is known, Russia was the first country to render financial assistance to the Palestinians after the elections in January 2006 when
10 million dollars were transferred to the special account of the Head of PNA to maintain health care system and for other urgent humanitarian needs.
At the end of August, we sent emergency humanitarian supplies for the Gaza Strip, again to be delivered through the PNA. Unfortunately, for almost one mouth these supplies can not make it to the West Bank for further shipment to Gaza. This example clearly illustrates how difficult it is to achieve any serious improvement in the Palestinian situation, even though necessary decisions have been made, funds have been allocated, and the supplies have been delivered to an adjacent state.
It would be right to think together about more efficient mechanisms of international assistance to the Palestinians, including, of course, solutions to the financial problem of the PNA, but also not forgetting about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. This task aquires also a political dimension, since a better life in the PNA territories would consolidate substantially the standing of M.Abbas and would add to his policy toward political settlement with Israel, and help marginalize the extremists.
In other words, we face important tasks, and such meetings, as we hold today, should help find ways to tackle them. Therefore, I should like to commend the efforts of our Norwegian colleagues, who made a significant contribution to let this meeting take place.
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