Norway welcomes the agreement reached in Mecca on the formation of a Palestinian unity government. We commend President Abbas for his tireless efforts to establish a broad national unity government on a political platform that reflects the Quartet principles of non-violence, recognition of Israel and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations.
Norway would also like to acknowledge the particularly important role that Saudi Arabia - together with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Arab League - have played in making this possible. This shows that concerned countries are taking responsibility for dealing with the major political challenges in their own region.
The Mecca agreement is an important step forward. The formation of a unity government will give President Abbas a broad basis for conducting negotiations with Israel. It is essential that the international community continues to build on what has been achieved. We firmly believe that this positive development needs international encouragement.
Norway welcomes the recent statements by the Quartet, where it promises to remain closely engaged in the renewed political dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and to monitor developments and actions taken by the parties.
Norway would also like to express its full support for the upcoming tripartite meeting between President Abbas, Prime Minister Olmert and Secretary of State Rice. We hope this will encourage the resumption of a peace process leading to a two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace, within secure and recognised borders.
To underpin the political process, the two parties should make every effort to build confidence. Norway urges the parties to implement fully what was agreed at the December 23 meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders and to meet their obligations under the Agreement on Movement and Access, the Sharm el-Sheikh Understandings of 2005 and the Roadmap.
The Mecca agreement should also be an important step towards ending internal violence among the Palestinians and creating stability in the Palestinian Territory. We expect the new government to reinstate the rule of law in Gaza and to act decisively against terrorism and rocket attacks on Israel.
Norway also urges the immediate release of the captured Israeli soldier and the detained members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Norway has for many years actively promoted a two-state solution by supporting Palestinian institution-building. This is crucial in building a viable, democratic and independent Palestinian state that can live in peace with Israel.
We welcome the Mecca agreement. It is now our hope that this agreement could make it possible to normalize relations between a Palestinian unity government and the international community.