The Socialist International Middle East Committee met in Tel Aviv and Ramallah on 29-30 October, at a crucial moment in which once more a political perspective opens up in the region and preparations are underway for an international peace conference to take place in Annapolis, USA, to search for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In our view, the Annapolis conference offers a unique opportunity to revive a peace process stalled for seven years, and the Socialist International is fully committed to contribute to the international efforts to make it a success, recognising that failure would have serious consequences, not only for the parties directly concerned, but also for the stability of the whole area, and globally.
Crucial for both Israelis and Palestinians is the need to tackle the core issues of the conflict such as the status of Jerusalem, the question of refugees, the definition of borders, security, the question of settlements, water resources and economic development - to do so now, and in a political framework which will secure durable and sustainable agreements with the full support and commitment of the international community.
What is urgently required in the region today is first of all visible and tangible changes on the ground. These should include an immediate ceasefire with an end to all shellings and attacks on innocent civilians, the release of prisoners, the lifting of road blocks, the lifting of restrictions on access and freedom of movement, stopping arms smuggling and military build-up together with an end to all militia activity, stopping the confiscation of land, and freezing of settlement activity.
With regard to the core issues, our International has long stated its support for the existence of two states living side by side within secure and recognised borders and our Committee believes that the time has come to also acknowledge that a mutually agreeable solution which will place Jerusalem as two capitals for two nations is essential to a lasting peace. The time has also come, in our view, to recognise that the question of refugees requires a fair, creative and realistic approach which takes into account the national character of the Israeli state and the expectations of the Palestinian people with the active contribution and support of the international community.
Comprehensive peace in the region needs to address the security and humanitarian situation of Gaza, and to restore there the legitimate institutions of the Palestinian Authority.
As peace is inextricably linked to equality between women and men, a lasting peace cannot be established without the participation of women and the inclusion of gender perspectives in the peace process. Therefore, the Committee calls on the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to include women in the negotiating teams in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1325.
We welcome and support the work of former Prime Minister Tony Blair in advancing the establishment of the Palestinian state and securing its political, economic and institutional sustainability with the continuous efforts of the donor community.
We reiterate our support for our Israeli and Palestinian member parties in the achievement of our common principles, values and objectives and call on all SI member parties to fully support the Fatah movement in its current efforts for reform and democratisation, and we look forward to the holding of their next Congress.
Annapolis should definitely become a passage for peace, which this region needs so much, a moment to define the framework for a lasting peace and resulting in a clear timetable to resolve all outstanding issues of permanent status.
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