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‘Put pressure on Israel to create Palestinian State’

Foreign Minister urges international community to help hasten process

A Palestinian woman stands near Israeli soldiers during clashes in the West Bank on Friday. Photo: Reuters

A Palestinian woman stands near Israeli soldiers during clashes in the West Bank on Friday. Photo: Reuters

The creation of a Palestinian State can be accelerated if the international community helps persuade the Israeli government to accept a two-state solution by exerting pressure that may include sanctions, according to Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Malki.

Newly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during the country’s electoral campaign that he would not accept the creation of a Palestinian State.

Foreign Minister Riad Malki. Photo: Chris Sant FournierForeign Minister Riad Malki. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Mr Malki believes that Mr Netanyahu is very unlikely to change his mind on a whim – this is where the role of the international community is vital.

“I mean [international] intervention in the sense that they have to convince Netanyahu to alter his thinking and to be forthcoming and positive and engaging. If that requires pressure, they should put pressure. If it requires persuasion, it should happen.

“If that requires sanctions, why not? It should happen,” he told The Sunday Times of Malta.

While stressing that his government respects the outcome of the Israeli elections, he added: “But we are not going to deceive ourselves by thinking that tomorrow Netanyahu will change. The most important issue is not what we are going or not going to do. The question is what the international community is going or not going to do.”

If it requires persuasion, it should happen. If that requires sanctions, why not? It should happen

Mr Malki was in Malta to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Maltese government for cooperation in setting up small and medium businesses.

He said that Malta had always been very forthcoming and supportive of the two-state solution.

As an EU member it had an important role to play in supporting the cause by making its voice heard within the bloc.

Despite the re-election of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Mr Malki is still convinced that the world will get to see the creation of a Palestinian State.

“I’m a strong believer that this is imminent and this will happen. Of course it requires more work, better coordination and special focus and attention by many other countries around the world,” he said adding that the EU needed to accelerate its involvement.

But the signs were positive. Last month 16 European foreign ministers called on the EU to push forward the process of labelling goods sourced from illegal Israeli settlements.

Last year Sweden recognised the State of Palestine, joining the other seven EU countries that have done so, namely Malta, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

Asked whether he was concerned about ongoing conflicts in Gaza between Hamas and jihadist groups, he replied that Hamas would not tolerate such intrusions.

On Friday the international media reported that a jihadist group with ties to the Islamic State (known as IS or Isis) claimed responsibility for a mortar attack on a Hamas base in the Gaza Strip.

“We’ve heard of limited conflicts between Hamas and certain Salafist groups, but they are not necessarily Isis. I don’t think they are operating in Gaza.

“Hamas cannot tolerate the presence of any group in Gaza, as they want to be in control of the situation and will react to any group,” he said.

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