PAM Member Parliaments to provide additional impetus to the Middle East peace process following Malta Meeting on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

“Unbound by the constraints of intergovernmental diplomacy, the Meeting in Support of Israeli-Palestinian peace, has managed to produce a number of fresh ideas”. This is how the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM) and the United Nations, co-organisers of the international event, have described the outcome of the two day debate held in Malta on 12-13 February 2010. The purpose of the Meeting was to provide a forum for the exchange of views on the current state of the peace process and encourage a constructive dialogue among the stakeholders on how to create a political climate conducive to the resumption of the peace negotiations on permanent status issues. Modalities for bridging gaps and building trust between the parties; international approaches to promoting a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and the role of parliamentarians and inter-parliamentary organizations in supporting Israeli-Palestinian peace and stability in the region, were also looked into. The meeting was attended by a number of Member delegations of PAM, parliamentarians from other national and regional assemblies, government officials, experts including Israeli and Palestinians, UN Member States and observers, intergovernmental and civil society organisations. In all there were 35 countries, 13 Inter-Governmental Organisations, 14 Civil Society Organisations and Academic Institutions, totalling to around 200 participants. Among others the opening session was addressed by Hon. Louis Galea, Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malta, Hon. Dr. Borg, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Malta, Hon. Rudy Salles (France), PAM President, Hon. Ahmed Fathi Sorour, President of the Egyptian People‟s Assembly and H.E. Cemil Cicek, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State of Turkey. A special message to the meeting by the United Nations Secretary-General H.E. Ban Ki-moon, was read by Mr Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, as Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General.
The contributions delivered by the expert speakers and the interventions by the participants focused on the permanent status issues, namely the borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees and water. Many speakers highlighted the importance of security for both Israelis and Palestinians, as an additional permanent status issue to be addressed. Throughout the two day debate the role of parliaments and inter-parliamentary organisations in supporting and advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace and stability in the region were widely put into focus. It was also recommended to strengthen parliamentarians‟ role in contributing towards a solution to the question of Palestine. There exists a high level of good will, particularly among members of Parliament, who will continue to work until a just and equitable solution is reached. The stability of the area affects the whole of the Mediterranean region and the repercussions of the current status quo are felt throughout the world. The Ambassador from the United States of America in Malta has, himself, underpinned this subject during the interventions by the representatives of the Quartet Member States. The Chairman of the PAM Ad hoc Committee on the Middle East, Hon. George Vella (Malta) referred to the initiatives undertaken by various international parliamentary fora, including PAM. He said these institutions have provided ample opportunities for both sides to engage in a fruitful dialogue. All have visited the region in the hope to better understand the situation on the ground and engaged in dialogue with the concerned parties. The overall atmosphere during the meeting was considered by the participants as a determined, yet fair and balanced approach, to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, where every aspect was framed within a consensual call for bridge building between all the stakeholders and for the negotiations to re-start in earnest without further delay. Referring to the specific topic of the meeting, PAM President Hon. Salles, said in his welcome speech: “My message to the Israeli and Palestinian leaders is that peace is not an option, but a must”. He added that Parliamentary Diplomacy will do its utmost so that all parties remain committed to the peace process, which is crucial not only to the region concerned, but for the entire world. PAM, he said, will continue to offer its good offices to whoever comes forward, like in the case of the Malta Meeting, on the request by the UN Secretary-General for PAM‟s involvement to promote the initiative across the region and other Parliamentary Assemblies. „We are also determined to make good use of our Observer Status at the General Assembly of the United Nations so that we can follow closer the developments in the negotiations, and we will not hesitate to undertake all the necessary parliamentary initiatives to support the process, which we sincerely hope will lead to a long lasting peace‟, PAM President concluded. Based on the concrete outcome of the Malta Meeting, the Secretary General of PAM, Dr. Sergio Piazzi, highlighted as the next step forward, the need for the Assembly to look into the regional dimension of the issue, whereby the Member Parliaments can provide additional impetus to the peace process in the region.

ISSUED ON: 18.02.2010

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