MPs asked to press for release of Palestinians
Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative has urged Maltese parliamentarians to push for the release of some 40 Palestinian lawmakers currently being held by Israel.
Dr Barghouti was speaking on the situation in the Palestinian territories at a meeting with Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Palestine National Initiative advocates an end to Israeli occupation, the removal of illegal Israeli settlements from Palestinian territories and a just solution to the rights of Palestinian refugees.
These goals could be acheived through peaceful means and in accordance with resolutions that have been passed through the UN over the years, he said.
Dr Barghouti acknowledged the role played by both leading Maltese political parties with regard to the Palestinian cause.
He considered what is known as the Arab League 2002 Peace Initiative as a good basis towards reaching a just solution to the Palestinian issue and agreed to the call for an international conference for this purpose. Malta was a suitable place to hold such a conference, he noted.
During his presentation, Dr Barghouti showed a number of maps to demonstrate how Israel has been expanding into Palestinian territories. He recently showed the same maps to US Secretary of State Condolezza Rice when he argued that the measures being taken by Israel were rendering the creation of a Palestinian state unsustainable.
As a result, the realisation of the US President's own vision of having a two-state solution was being undermined. Dr Barghouti said the US Secretary of State expressed her deep concern about this.
He protested over the "security wall" being built by Israel, describing it as the wall of apartheid that not only separated Israelis from Palestinians but Palestinians from Palestinians.
The wall and the hundreds of checkpoints scattered all over the Palestinian territories were rendering the daily life of Palestinians - especially that of workers, students and patients - extremely difficult due to movement restrictions.
Other grievances mentioned by Dr Barghouti included the withholding of foreign aid to Palestinians.