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Middle East Quartet: Statement Following Meeting in Moscow

(May 9, 2005)

The Quartet met today in Moscow. The Quartet emphasises that this is a hopeful and promising moment for both Palestinians and Israelis, and that they deserve the full support of the international community in helping them with the hard work and difficult decisions required in order to make positive use of this opportunity. The Quartet welcomed the commitments of the parties at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit of February 8 and urged them to renew their efforts to fulfil the commitments they agreed to at that time, in order to maintain momentum at this fragile moment of opportunity. The Quartet, underscoring the urgency of the matter, affirms its commitment to fully support the efforts of both parties to ensure successful Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank.

The Quartet strongly reiterated its commitment to the two-state solution, and to Israeli withdrawal as a way to re-energize the Roadmap. The Quartet stresses the importance of full and complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in a manner consistent with the Roadmap as an important step paving the way toward realizing the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. The Quartet affirms that a new Palestinian state must be truly viable, with contiguity in the West Bank; reminds all concerned that a state of scattered territories will not work; and emphasizes that no party should take unilateral actions that prejudge final status issues. The Quartet also affirms that the two-state vision and the Roadmap are the best means of achieving a settlement negotiated between the two parties, leading to a permanent peace and an end to the occupation that began in 1967. With respect to this, the Quartet observes that the Roadmap has been endorsed by Israel and the Palestinian Authority and remains the objective of the international community; and urges both parties to take steps to fulfil all their obligations under the Roadmap.

The Quartet expresses its ful1 support for its Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement, James Wolfensohn. His mandate is to focus on the non-security aspects of withdrawal, particularly disposition of assets; passages, access and trade; and revival of the Palestinian economy during and after Israeli withdrawal. This will require close coordination with both Israel and the Palestinians to identify and implement those actions and policies that will ensure a smooth and successfu1 implementation of the Israeli initiative. On the Palestinian side, this includes above all a strong commitment to security reform and performance; and the building of transparent, accountable government institutions and an investor-friendly climate, with a view to restoring growth. 0n the Israeli side, this involves relieving the economic hardships faced by the Palestinian people and facilitating rehabilitation and reconstruction by easing the system of restrictions on the movement of Palestinian people and goods and taking further steps to respect the dignity of the Palestinian people and improve their quality of life - without endangering Israeli security - and taking into consideration the World Bank report of December 2004. At the London meeting on March 1, the international community underscored its readiness to play a vital role by providing financial support to the Palestinians at this critical moment. Creating the environment conducive for a long-term, sustainable and viable economic development of all the Palestinian territories would constitute a suitable basis for additional assistance efforts by the international community.

The Quartet emphasizes Mr. Wolfensohn's mandate to promote direct dialogue and cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis on these economic issues, to ensure a smooth transition in Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank. In this context, the Quartet stresses the urgent need for Israelis and Palestinians to coordinate directly and fully on withdrawal preparations. The Quartet recognizes that economic development and progress on security go hand in hand as security reforms and the reestablishment of the rule of law are necessary to create an enabling environment for economic growth and political progress. The Quartet also recognizes the need for continued efforts by the international community to assist the PA in accomplishing these tasks, including rebuilding the capabilities of the Palestinian security services. Ongoing assistance by the international community, in particular members of the Quartet and countries of the region, constitutes a significant contribution to these efforts. The Quartet calls upon Israel and the Palestinian Authority to facilitate these efforts.

In that regard, the Quartet expresses its full support for General William Ward, U.S. Security Coordinator, to assist the Palestinians in reforming and restructuring their security forces, and to coordinate international assistance towards those efforts. The Quartet welcomes the recent concrete steps that President M.Abbas has taken towards reform of the Palestinian security services, and stresses the need to continue implementation of these reforms in order to permanently reinstate law and order in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Quartet commends the Palestinian people's and leadership's commitment to democracy and attaches great importance to a successful continuation of the democratic process. The latest round of municipal elections has just been conducted. The Quartet commends the Government of Israel for facilitating the operations. The holding of free, fair, and transparent multi-party legislative elections in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, under the scrutiny of international observers, will be another vital step forward on the path towards building a reformed and accountable Palestinian Authority. As additional voter registration for these elections has just begun, the Quartet calls on both the PA and Israel to urgently take all necessary steps, including freedom of movement for candidates and voters, to achieve this goal and renews its offers of technical support and providing election observation services.

The Quartet deems it necessary to ensure continued efforts aimed at full implementation of the Roadmap following Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank.

The Quartet reiterates its commitment to the principles outlined in its previous statements, including those of March 1, 2005 and May 4, 2004; and reaffirms its commitment to a just, comprehensive, and lasting settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict based upon resolutions 242 and 338, and will remain engaged with all parties to help ensure that progress towards this goal is achieved.

Sources: United Nations Secretary General