The need for progress on the Middle East peace process is more urgent than ever, nobody can afford the status quo, EP President Jerzy Buzek said in a speech to the Knesset during a three-day visit to the Palestinian territories and Israel. When meeting with political leaders Buzek encouraged both sides to return to the negotiating table. He stressed that the Arab Spring creates a new context in the region and makes a historic peace deal ever more urgent.
During a visit to EU-financed projects in Gaza and East Jerusalem 13 June, Mr Buzek said, "I saw today the human misery caused by the blockade in Gaza. The Gaza blockade must end. It serves no one."
Commenting on Palestinian plans to unilaterally seek recognition by the UN, he said, "Unilateral actions simply cannot bring lasting peace in the way that comprehensive negotiation would do."
Supporting the peace process
"The wind of change blowing throughout the region provides a very good opportunity for Middle East peace talks," Mr Buzek said during meetings with the Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority Salam Fayyad and President Mahmoud Abbas 14 June. "Israeli and Palestinian leaders must seize the moment of change in the region for a historic peace agreement."
He reiterated his message to the Israeli Knesset on 15 June. "The only way forward is for Israel and the Palestinians to engage in direct negotiations that will lead to a two-state solution, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition."
"The need for progress on the Middle East peace process is more urgent than ever. Nobody can afford the status quo," Mr Buzek said. "For Israel, continuing to live with the fear of Kassam rockets fired on its population is not sustainable, not to mention the constant insecurity of being surrounded by hostile neighbours. For Palestinians, the 'Arab spring' could increase their frustration not only against the occupation, but also against a divided Palestinian leadership."
Remembering the Holocaust
Mr Buzek met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on 14 June. In a press release, he said that he had urged the prime minster "to show true leadership and start negotiations with the Palestinians with the aim of achieving a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps".
On 14 June, President Buzek also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, where he laid a wreath and said we must learn the lessons of history. "We want to remember, we must, and we always will remember."