S&D Members call for saving the two-state solution after visiting Israel and Palestine

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Press release

A delegation of S&D MEPs visited Israel and Palestine from 24th to 28th March in a fact-finding mission. The programme of the visit included meetings with sister parties, government and civil society representatives on both sides, as well as field visits in Hebron, Susiya and Umm al-Hiran. The delegation included:  S&D Group Vice-President and chair of the delegation MEP Elena Valenciano (ES), and MEPs Maria Arena (BE), Eugen Freund (AT), Linda McAvan (UK), Norbert Neuser (DE), and Soraya Post (SE). At the end of their visit, they made the following statement:
 
“We reiterate our call for the two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians as the only way to secure a future in justice, peace and freedom for both people.
 
Preserving the viability of the two-state solution must be an immediate priority for the European Union and the international community. The resumption of peace talks requires a multilateral international initiative and framework. The recognition of the state of Palestine, including by all EU member states, should contribute to these efforts.
 
The legitimate security concerns of Israel have to be respected and answered, but the strengthening of nationalist and religious right-wing parties in the country gives no valid answer to these concerns. Israel cannot achieve peace and security through occupation, the geographic fragmentation of the West Bank, the segregation of its Arab citizens, and the mistreatment of minorities, such as Bedouin families despite the efforts of the relevant Israeli authority over the past years. The human rights violations we witnessed in Hebron and the stories of families we heard in the villages of Susiya and Umm al-Hiran cannot be justified by security needs. The detention of more than 350 Palestinian minors in Israeli prisons is unacceptable. 
 
It was also with regret that we heard about the deadlock in intra-Palestinian reconciliation. Palestinian unity is essential for restoring democratic mechanisms and for resuming the peace process. The Palestinian Authority must return to the Gaza Strip, while the blockade of Gaza must come to an end. The collective punishment of the population in this open-air prison cannot be tolerated.
 
Against the backdrop of despair, we have also seen signs of hope. We met Israeli civil society organisations that strongly criticise government policies, Palestinian civil society representatives challenging the Palestinian leadership, and organisations in which Israelis and Palestinians work together for peace and reconciliation. During our visit in Am'ari refugee camp and its Girls' School, we witnessed again the importance of the work done by UNRWA, in particular with regard to access of children to education. 
 
At the end of our visit, we reiterate our call for an end to Israeli settlements and outposts in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law. We encourage the European Union and the international community to support civil society organisations on both sides that work for peace, as well as UNRWA. The European Union must fully implement its existing political positions and legislation towards Israel and the Palestinian Authority, including the policy of differentiation between the territory of the state of Israel and the territories occupied by Israel since 1967. We must also play a genuine political role in the peace process.