The Council of the Socialist International, meeting in Johannesburg on 15-16 November:
• expresses its sympathy with the Palestinian people who today are mourning the loss of President Yasser Arafat, who symbolised the unity of the Palestinians and who for nearly four decades led their aspirations for the establishment of a state of their own.
• is pleased to see that the Palestinian institutions continue to work normally and that the Palestinian Authority has taken the necessary measures to respond to a difficult situation and has announced the holding of elections to the Presidency on 9 January 2005. The Socialist International stresses the need for the international community to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority for the successful holding of those crucial elections. The Socialist International undertakes to observe the elections and to report back to its members;
• calls upon the parties to conclude a reciprocal ceasefire and to end violence on both sides. The restoration of cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security forces is vital;
• sees the withdrawal from Gaza as a first positive step, to be negotiated with the Palestinian Authority and followed by additional steps, thus turning it into an integral part of the road map.
The Israeli government should put an immediate end to settlement activity and remove all illegal settlements. While recognising Israel’s security needs, the SI demands that it stop the building of the wall on Palestinian territory.
The international community has a particular responsibility to act urgently today, making peace in this troubled region a priority. The Socialist International calls on the European Union in particular to offer Israel, Palestine and Jordan special access conditions to the internal market as incentives for peace.
The Socialist International firmly supports the Israelis and Palestinians who are working for peace. It is today critical to rebuild in the Middle East a horizon for peace for the benefit of the people of the region and of all the people of the world.