I propose to take Questions Nos. 2 and 5 together.
The Taoiseach and I discussed the situation in the Middle East with our European partners at both the General Affairs Council last week and the European Council in Seville over the weekend. A declaration on the Middle East was issued in the conclusions to the Seville Council. The declaration called for the implementation of the most promising initiative being undertaken at the moment, which is the proposal to hold an international conference to discuss the situation in the Middle East. Ireland and our European Union partners support an early convening of the conference, which should address political and economic aspects as well as matters relating to security. It should confirm the parameters of a political solution on a realistic and well defined time scale. It should have wide regional involvement and appropriate participation by all the major actors.
The Seville declaration stressed the need for urgent action by the international community to address the situation in its political, security and economic aspects. It condemned all terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and stated that the fight against terrorism must be accompanied by negotiation of a political solution. The objective is an end to the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders, with minor adjustments. The result should be two states living side by side within secure and recognised borders enjoying normal relations with their neighbours. Fair solutions will have to be found to the issues of Jerusalem and refugees.
The declaration supports reform of the Palestinian Authority and calls for an end to military operations in the occupied territories and restrictions on movement. It pointed out that walls will not bring peace and it renewed the European Union's commitment to work with all concerned to pursue every opportunity to bring peace to the region. It reiterated our commitment to contributing fully to peace building, as well as to the reconstruction of the Palestinian economy as an integral part of regional development. Ireland is committed to contributing over €5 million in aid this year to the Palestinian people and the European Union remains a principal contributor to the Palestinian economy.
We are extremely concerned at the deterioration of the situation in the Middle East in the past fortnight. We utterly condemned last week's terrorist attacks, but we believe the recent actions of the Israeli authorities will only fuel tensions in the region and could lead to further attacks by Palestinian militants. The occupation of Palestinian lands, attacks on Palestinians and the destruc tion of Palestinian infrastructure will only tend to provoke further terrorist actions, unacceptable and counterproductive as they may be. It makes little sense to call for action against terrorism, while at the same time destroying or paralysing the means available to the Palestinian Authority to carry out such a policy.
Ireland and our EU partners will work with the parties and with our partners in the international community, especially with the United States in the quartet grouping, to achieve these goals and to pursue every opportunity for peace and for a decent future for all the people of the region. We welcome the announcement yesterday by the Palestinian Authority of a reform plan and dates for presidential and legislative elections. We call on all concerned to make it possible to hold these elections.