asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will outline the specific steps which they will recommend to their European Union Middle East quartet partners to revive the road map talks, following the Prime Minister's visit to Israel and Palestine on 18 December. [HL1062]
During my right honourable friend the Prime Minister's visit on 17 to 19 December he met Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas to discuss how to move the peace process forward. He stated that the immediate priorities for the peace process are: an Office of the President in Palestine that is given the means to improve its capacity and effectiveness to act in the interests of the Palestinian people; an early meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas; and a relaunch of the political process leading to a two-state solution.
One of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister’s immediate priorities has already been achieved: on 23 December Prime Minister Olmert met President Abbas at his residence in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Olmert agreed in principle to the release of $l00 million in withheld tax revenues and easing restrictions on movement and access in the West Bank. Prime Minister Olmert has since announced plans for the removal of 27 roadblocks as part of a series of gestures designed to gradually ease restrictions on the Palestinian population.
The EU is already taking forward work to help build Palestinian institutions, as noted at the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 13-14 November. EU Foreign Ministers have also reiterated the necessity of a political perspective and reinvigorating the peace process through relaunching negotiations. We will continue to work with the EU to take forward these initiatives and to discuss ways forward in the peace process.