Gaza, 2 December 2006 - "Many elements for the revival of the peace process are on the table. Now the goal is to get a dialogue started between the two sides to forge a tie of hope for a new start to the political process. In his speech on 27 November Prime Minister Olmert extended his hand. Now all sides must fan the glimmer of hope presented by the ceasefire and actively work at re-establishing a basis of trust. Many pieces are necessary to complete the mosaic," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik on the second day of her visit to the Middle East.
Following her meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza Plassnik emphasised: "The Palestinian people rightly expect their political leaders to cooperate instead of obstructing each other. Efforts aimed at the formation of a Palestinian government of national unity therefore have to continue. President Abbas, whose democratic legitimacy and willingness for talks are undisputed in Israel, has our full support in this respect. My visit was therefore also a deliberate sign of encouragement and recognition of his work."
As the dramatic humanitarian situation in the Palestinian Territories was part of the problem, efforts were under way to counteract this situation by all possible means. "In addition to the renunciation of force on both sides, improvement of the appalling social and economic situation is of decisive importance in the search for a lasting and just peace in the Middle East. The dire economic situation and lack of perspective in the Palestinian Territories are a breeding ground for anger and frustration. These obstacles to peace must be removed," said Plassnik.
Plassnik announced that Austria would be making available another 500,000 euros in concrete aid. "Austria is providing support. These additional means will be used to re-equip ten day clinics in the Gaza Strip, which is in a particularly dire situation. This will help to maintain basic healthcare," said the Foreign Minister.
During her visit to Ramallah, Plassnik also met Palestinian women who are particularly active in civil society. "Measures aimed at improving the situation of women and girls in the region are of special concern to me. This also includes assisting Palestinian non-governmental organisations which support women’s rights and help women in difficult situations," said Plassnik. On the margins of her visit Foreign Minister Plassnik also met with the independent Palestinian representatives Zyad Abu-Amr, Hanan Ashrawi and Mustapha Barghouthi.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
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