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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 19 March 2013

Remarks by High Representative Catherine Ashton ahead of the meeting Ad Hoc Liaison Committee

Can I just say what a great pleasure it is to host the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for the third consecutive year here in Brussels today. And I am very happy to welcome my dear friend Foreign Minister Eide here in his capacity as Chair of the AHLC.

We are very well aware that today's meeting comes in the time of deepening financial difficulties for the Palestinian Authority. Money is needed to continue building sustainable institutions, and the building of these institutions has been recognised, by this forum and beyond, as a success, because it lays the groundwork that is necessary for the Palestinian state.

The European Union has been and will continue to be instrumental in the state building efforts, supporting the Palestinian Authority. Just this morning I signed, together with Prime Minister Fayyad, financing agreement on Area C, and we have also announced the formal adoption of the new European Union-Palestinian Authority Action Plan.

In the current year the European Union will maintain the same level of assistance as in 2012, that is 300 EUR mln.

We considered it a matter of priority to see a full, regular, transparent and predictable transfer of clearance revenue to the Palestinian Authority. The fiscal cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian authority is critical to underpin their functioning of the security cooperation.

And as always we encourage the Palestinian Authority to continue its reforms and we call upon all donors, especially those is a real position to do so, to step in and help the PA at this critical time.

I have said many times before - the primary need is a clear commitment by the parties to the two-state solution and a resumption of direct and substantial negotiations. To solve this conflict we need joint efforts by all interested parties and a clear framework for negotiations.

We have stepped up the our diplomatic efforts engaging closely with the United States, with United Nations, with the Arab League - we recognise importance of Arab states politically and financially.

And as always we recognise the legitimate security concerns of Israel. We believe that democratic and peaceful Palestine will provide this stability and security, especially in the current context of regional transformation. And I said many times before, and repeat: we express a deep dismay at the settlements that are being undertaken, and strong opposition to the latest plans.

But let me end with a welcoming of formation of the new Israeli government, we are looking forward to working with them, both to develop further our bilateral relations and to work towards the two-state solution.


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