Russia, EU: Time for steps toward peace between Palestinians, Israelis

Russia and the European Union are convinced that the time has come to make bold and concrete steps toward peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said in a joint statement.

"The parties must engage in direct and substantial negotiations without preconditions in order to achieve a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, ending all claims, on the basis of UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1397, 1515, 1850, the Madrid principles including land for peace, the Roadmap, the Arab Peace Initiative and the agreements previously reached between the parties," the statement says.

The EU and Russia affirm that "clear parameters outlining the basis for negotiations are key elements for a successful outcome. All parties must avoid acts which undermine confidence and the viability of a two-state solution," it says.

"The European Union and the Russian Federation underline the urgency of renewed, structured and substantial peace efforts in 2013. Towards this end, they are ready to work with other international partners, including within the Quartet," the statement says.

"There will be no sustainable peace until the Palestinians' aspirations for statehood and sovereignty and those of Israelis for security are fulfilled through a comprehensive negotiated peace agreement. The European Union and the Russian Federation will work with those who are willing to join in such a quest for peace, stability and prosperity," it says.

"The European Union and the Russian Federation welcome the 21 November ceasefire between the Gaza Strip groups and Israel and commend the efforts of Egypt and all those who engaged in mediation," it says.

"This tragic escalation of hostilities underlined very clearly the unsustainable nature of the status quo with regard to the Gaza Strip," it says.

"Fully recognizing Israel's legitimate security needs, the European Union and the Russian Federation call for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of goods and persons to and from the Gaza Strip, the situation of which is unsustainable as long as it remains politically and economically separated from the West Bank. It is vital that all parts of the ceasefire agreement are implemented," Lavrov and Ashton said.

"The European Union and the Russian Federation call for intra-Palestinian reconciliation behind President Mahmoud Abbas, in line with the principles set out in his speech of 4 May 2011, as an important element for the unity of a future Palestinian state and a two-state solution," it says.

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