Highlights

  • EU Amsterdam Declaration: The Heads of State or Government of the European Union issued a Call for Peace in the Middle East at their Amsterdam meetings of 16 and17 June 1997, in which they accepted a Palestinian state. The European leaders called upon the peoples and governments of the Middle East to renew the spirit of mutual confidence established at the Madrid conference. Citing the threat to Middle East security caused by the stagnation in the Middle East peace process, the Amsterdam Statement expressed both the urgency and necessity of peace.

The leaders reiterated the basic foundations of peace: the right of all States and peoples in the region to live within safe, recognized borders; respect for the legitimate aspiration of the Palestinian people to self-determination; the exchange of land for peace; the non-acceptability of forceful annexation of land; and compliance with existing agreements. The European Union called upon the parties to abstain from counterproductive unilateral actions that prejudged the permanent status issues and reaffirmed its opposition to Israeli settlements.

While Europe has long-supported the Palestinian people in their fight for self-determination, this statement is critical because it takes the support a step further by actually accepting a Palestinian state. The statement calls upon the Israeli people "to recognize the right of Palestinians to exercise self-determination, without excluding the option of a state" and stresses that a "viable and sovereign Palestinian entity is the best guarantee of Israel’s security."

The European governments also pledged to continue their wide-ranging efforts to achieve a Middle East peace, through both diplomatic and economic means, and called upon both parties to continue the negotiations, implement the agreements signed and resume the permanent status talks.

The Palestinian leadership welcomed the Amsterdam Statement and the European position, as it has welcomed past European positions, such as the Dublin and Florence Declarations of 1996.

  • Denver Summit Addresses the Middle East: In their annual summit meeting, the heads of major industrial nations - the Summit of Eight - affirmed their determination to reinject momentum into the stalled Middle East peace process. In their Communiqué of 22 June, the leaders pledged to "reinvigorate implementation of the Oslo Accords and to uphold the principles of Madrid, including the exchange of land for peace." Affirming that all problems can be addressed through serious and credible negotiations, the Denver Summit Communiqué called upon all sides to "refrain from actions that impede the peace process by preempting permanent status negotiations."

Responding to the severe economic plight of the Palestinian economy, the Communiqué also urged donors to fulfill their pledges of $2.4 billion (promised over five years) to assist the Palestinian people. While the Palestinian leadership strongly welcomed the Summit’s position on the Middle East, and appreciated the support of the Group, the Israeli government rejected it as "one-sided".