At a time of deep concern for the peace process in the Middle East, the SI Middle East Committee, SIMEC, met in the territories under Palestinian Authority and in Israel to review the current situation in the region and the latest developments in the peace process. On 14 May the Committee, chaired for the first time by its new Chair, Bjørn Tore Godal, Labour Foreign Minister of Norway, convened in Ramallah for a session hosted by Fatah at the seat of the Palestinian Legislature, where Yasser Arafat, Leader of Fatah and President of the Palestinian Authority, addressed the participants. On the following day the meeting reconvened in Tel Aviv, hosted by the Israel Labour Party and Mapam/Meretz. Shimon Peres, who also attended a dinner organised for the Committee by Fatah the previous night in Ramallah, spoke to the delegates there. In a resolution, the Commmittee expressed its deep regret about the current stalemate and called for every effort to be made to revitalise the peace process and for the Oslo Accords to be respected and fully implemented by both parties. It condemned the settlement policies of the present Israeli government, in particular the construction at Har Homa, and called for a serious and constructive beginning to permanent-status negotiations on the basis of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, for the resumption of security cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians, for confidence-building measures, and for the resumption of Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese negotiations. Recalling the International's longstanding commitment to and historic role in bringing together the parties in the peace process, the Committee renewed its firm intention to continue working for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
The Socialist International Middle East Committee, SIMEC, having met in Ramallah and Tel Aviv on 14-15 May 1997, declares:
- SIMEC deeply regrets the stalemate in the Middle East peace process. Lack of progress entails a clear risk of further escalation of violence in the region and an undermining of the forces of peace. Every effort must now be made to revitalise that process.
- The Oslo Accords must be respected and fully implemented by both parties.
- Israel has a special responsibility to bring the peace process back on track by not continuing with the construction at Har Homa. SIMEC condemns the settlement policies of the present Israeli government which endangers the peace process. Israel must also undertake to fulfil its obligations regarding the safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank, the operation of Gaza Airport, the construction of the Gaza Port, the release of prisoners and further redeployment.
- A serious and constructive beginning must be made to permanent-status negotiations, to achieve a durable and mutually acceptable peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, on the basis of the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which embody the principle of Land for Peace. The Committee emphasises the need to engage into serious dialogue on all outstanding issues.
- Security cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis must be resumed whatever the circumstances. Security is a common concern for all.
- Suitable confidence-building measures must be devised so that the parties can gradually begin to develop a minimum of confidence necessary to relaunch the negotiations.
- The international community has a vital stake in the future development of the Middle East. The United States, the European Union and all interested parties are urged to redouble their efforts to bring the parties back to the negotiating table and to ensure momentum in the negotiations.
- The Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese negotiations, on the basis of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 425, must be resumed.
- International economic assistance in support of the Palestinian Authority must be continued and increased as a vital contribution to the construction in the Palestinian areas of a viable and democratic society respectful of fundamental human rights.
- SIMEC congratulates the Congress of the Israel Labour Party which decided to recognise the proposition of the creation of a Palestinian state. SIMEC also refers to the longstanding decision of Mapam/Meretz in this respect.
- The Socialist International Middle East Committee, having met these last two days in Ramallah and Tel Aviv, recalling its longstanding commitment to and historic role in bringing together the parties in the peace process, renews, at this critical stage, its firm intention to continue working for a just and lasting peace in the region.
Chair of SIMEC
Bjørn Tore Godal (Norway, DNA)
Radical Civic Union, UCR
Raúl Alconada Sempé
Social Democratic Party of Austria, SPOe
Socialist Party, PS
National Liberation Party, PLN
Socialist Party, PS
Social Democratic Party of Germany, SPD
The Labour Party
Panhellenic Socialist Movement, PASOK
Israel Labour Party
United Workers' Party of Israel, MAPAM
Democratic Party of the Left, PDS
Italian Socialists, SI
Norwegian Labour Party, DNA
TERRITORIES UNDER PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
Raymonda Al Tawil
Socialist Party, PS
Socialist Party of Senegal
Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE
Swedish Social Democratic Party, SAP
Social Democratic Party of Switzerland
Constitutional Democratic Assembly, RCD
Saïd Naceur Ramdhane
International Union of Socialist Youth, IUSY
Socialist International Women, SIW
Group of the PES, European Parliament
Nadia Van Hamme
Party of European Socialists, PES
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