Call for Europe to double efforts in aid of ME peace process

Call for Europe to double efforts in aid of ME peace process

Riyad Mansour, Palestine's permanent observer to the UN, said the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba was the time to achieve the peace process.

Riyad Mansour, Palestine's permanent observer to the UN, said the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba was the time to achieve the peace process.

Palestine is ready for the historic peace process but it needs the help of the rest of the world for this to happen, Palestine's permanent observer to the United Nations insisted.

Referring to the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian exodus - called the Nakba - Riyad Mansour said this was the time for the peace process to come to fruition.

"If we do not exploit this historic moment, we will be giving a gift to extremists in our region who want to continue with war and destruction. If we delay it, we are going to kill more people, deepening wounds and resentment and then come back to the same conclusion that we have been discussing for the past years.

"There is no solution apart from allowing the Palestinian state to be born next to Israel," he told a press conference during the UN International Meeting On The Question Of Palestine at the Dolmen Hotel, Qawra.

"We are ready and we want to put an end to our tragedy by having peace and by allowing our state to be born."

Asked how far away he believed the peace process was, Mr Mansour replied: "It seems very dark, very complicated and very depressing but I don't think that it is very far away."

He said the fastest way to resolve the divisions among Palestinians would be by seeing results from the peace process, such as by freezing the settlements, dismantling posts, freeing prisoners, removing checkpoints from the West Bank and ending the siege in Gaza.

"Seeing positive results on these issues, which are obligations under the first phase of the roadmap, would help Palestine resolve its own internal situation in the fastest possible and democratic way. President (Mahmoud) Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayad are not magicians or miracle workers and if they cannot deliver the results of the peace process their people are not going to continue building hopes on abstract notions. Until this moment, our people support the peace process but this needs to deliver results. We cannot resolve our divisions unless people start seeing the peace process positively affecting their lives," he said.

He admitted that there was a lot of frustration given that, 60 years from the Nakba and 41 years since the occupation the peace process, had served very little for the Palestinians. But although experts were painting a gloomy picture, the Palestinians were "extremely stubborn and determined" not to give up their struggle.

"The fact that the settlements are swallowing one-third of the West Bank will not break our will or make us forget about having a Palestinian state. On the contrary, we are more stubborn than ever not to allow any obstacle to stand in the way of accomplishing peace based on justice, international law and the resolutions of the UN."

He called on European countries to double their efforts to have a successful peace process.

Mr Mansour reminded that the Palestinian and Israeli sides had started negotiations about final status issues following last November's conference in Annapolis.

The two-day meeting held in Malta, he said, brought together experts from around the world to brainstorm on how to deal with "thorny issues" like borders, settlements and refugees. This was important to create an atmosphere that would allow Palestinians and Israelis to reach the historic compromise. He said Malta was important because it was a bridge between European and Arab countries and between Europe and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The UN needed to continue fighting for justice for the Palestinian people and upholding international law.

Malta's permanent representative to the UN, Saviour Borg, said the Island was very active in issues relating to the question of Palestine, respecting the state of Israel but at the same time supporting activities to ensure that "hopefully in the near future we will have the state of Palestine".

Foreign Minister Tonio Borg on Tuesday stressed the importance that the state of Palestine "comes into being at the earliest opportunity".

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