Written Answers. - Middle East Peace Process.

Ivor Callely

Question:

60 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress of the report of the Mitchell Commission on the Middle East peace process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3969/02]

I regret to inform the House that, to date, there has been no progress on the implementation of the proposals contained in the report of the Mitchell Committee. As I said in the House on 13 December last, the Government warmly welcomed the report and fully endorsed its recommendations. We believe these recommendations must be taken in their entirety and that there is no room for either side to select those measures which appeal to it and avoid those which carry a cost. The General Affairs Council of the European Union on 28 January called on the parties to adopt all necessary measures to immediately and unconditionally implement the Tenet ceasefire plan and the Mitchell Committee report recommendations. As the Council also said, the objective of peace building requires that security and political measures must be implemented in parallel in a mutually reinforcing way.

Ivor Callely

Question:

61 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress of the Palestinian people to self determination including their right to an independent state; the measures which will be taken to reach practical agreements on settlements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3970/02]

Ivor Callely

Question:

62 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the discussions he has held with the Israeli authorities regarding the level of casualties in the vicinity of existing settlements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3971/02]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 62 together.

The right of the Palestinian people to a viable, independent and democratic state has long been supported by Ireland. This right was further endorsed by the European Council at Laeken in December, together with Israel's right to live in peace and security within internationally recognised borders. The fact that a Palestinian state is an indispensable element of any peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict has also been recognised by the United States and the Prime Minister of Israel. The final form which that state will take is a matter for negotiation between the parties on the basis of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. Ireland has constantly urged the parties to resume negotiations towards a final settlement. The Mitchell Committee report and the Tenet ceasefire plan offer the best available means to get such negotiations under way. This is also the view of our European Union partners.

All settlements in the occupied territories are illegal and should be removed. The eventual fate of the illegal settlements is a matter for negotiation between the parties to the conflict and must be considered as part of the final status talks. I am conscious that a significant number of casualties have occurred in the vicinity of the settlements, mainly Palestinian but also some Israeli. Ireland abhors all acts of violence and I have made this clear to both sides. I have urged the need for restraint on the Israeli authorities in dealing with demonstrations, or in responding to attacks, on numerous occasions and have condemned the unjustified and disproportionate use of force before in this House. I have also urged on President Arafat the need to prevent terrorist acts to the greatest extent possible, including acts against settlements. There is no military solution to the problems of the region. Progress and security for all can only come about through negotiations.
Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 39.