The European Union welcomes the historic progress made on Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank. It commends the Israeli Government and Palestinian Authority for their commitment to overcome the difficult challenges they face.

The European Union pays tribute to the courage of Prime Minister Sharon, and the Israeli Government, for implementing the disengagement plan, and to the Israeli security forces for their conduct. It also recognises the commitment of the Palestinian Authority in assisting a peaceful withdrawal. It applauds the close coordination between both sides and encourages them to continue on this path. It welcomes, and urges the continuation of, the restraint shown by the majority of Israelis and Palestinians.

The European Union believes that disengagement should be a significant step towards implementing the Quartet Roadmap. It encourages both parties to continue their cooperation on the remaining steps to complete disengagement, including their close work with Quartet Special Envoy for Disengagement, James Wolfensohn, on the key areas that he has identified.

The European Union reiterates its undertaking to assist both sides in advancing the peace process and achieving the goal of coexistence of the two States through the creation of a viable Palestinian State, living side by side with Israel in peace and security, in the framework of a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the conflict.

The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey and Croatia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration