Palestinian Authority praises summit declaration on Middle East


THE Palestinian Authority yesterday welcomed a summit declaration which criticised Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

The declaration on the Middle East from the European Council also said that the exchange of lands for peace and self-determination for the Palestinians were key principles of a just and lasting settlement in the Middle East.

The building of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories was eroding confidence in the peace process, it said. "Settlements contravene international law and are a major obstacle to peace," it said.

An adviser to President Yasser Arafat, Mr Nabil Abu Radeina welcomed the EU statement as "positive and constructive. .. The European position supports the peace process as well as the view of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO which are continuing their efforts to bring a total and just peace in the region," he said.

The summit compiled a list of measures to relieve the consequences of the Israeli blockade of Palestinian Authority areas. It has instructed its special envoy, Mr Miguel Moratinos, to promote these measures immediately.

They include seeking an Israeli commitment to allow more than 50,000 Palestinian workers into Israeli territory in all circumstances; the elimination of abuses and humiliating practices at checkpoints; the lifting of all impediments to the transport and export of perishable goods; the facilitation of the passage of ambulances and medical doctors through checkpoints; the opening of the airport in Gaza for freight and passenger aircraft, and an end to the policy of confiscating identity cards and residence permits.

The European Council declaration also called on Mediterranean states to work with the EU to help integrate the Palestinian economy into the region.