I propose to take Questions Nos. 6, 7, 30, 36 and 122 together.
The launch of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on 2 September was a very important step towards peace in the Middle East, achieved after long effort by President Obama and his Administration. Unfortunately the talks were very quickly suspended again when the partial Israeli moratorium on settlement construction expired on 26 September. President Abbas had always made clear that he could not continue in negotiations while settlement construction continued, and the three negotiating sessions which had taken place by that time were not nearly enough to develop confidence on either side that the negotiation process was going to achieve results. I have made clear, here in the Dáil and in my address to the UN General Assembly on 27 September, our deep disappointment at this breakdown, which was clearly foreseen and could and should have been avoided.
The United States, with the strong support of the European Union but essentially in private discussions with the parties, has worked intensively to get the talks back on track. Secretary of State Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu met for seven hours in Washington last week and are widely reported to have agreed terms under which Israel will renew the moratorium for a period of three months in order to allow the negotiations to proceed. The United States is thought to have offered unspecified political and security assurances to Mr. Netanyahu in return.
Neither Israel nor the Palestinians have yet reacted officially to these terms and some more discussions may be needed. The Arab League foreign Ministers are likely also to be involved. However, there seems to be a genuine prospect now that negotiations will recommence in earnest.
It is crucial to stress that negotiations are necessary but not sufficient. If a period of a few months is to be won for talks, at some political cost, then it is absolutely essential that both sides seize that opportunity and engage genuinely and substantively from the outset. The goal has to be that, before the renewed moratorium expires, the two sides can see clearly and with confidence that this process has a real chance of delivering a comprehensive settlement that will ensure the peaceful two-state solution, which is the only way they can live in peace together in the future. Surely, that prize must be worth any effort, any political capital and the greatest possible restraint on both sides.