New York, 23 September 2010 – “The direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis constitute the first actual ray of hope in a long time. This opportunity for movement, which is perhaps unique, must not vanish into thin air,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger following his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the run-up to the UN General Assembly in New York. The talks focused on the prospects for a continuation of direct negotiations in view of the impending expiry of the moratorium on the construction of Israeli settlements on 25 September.
“President Abbas is aware of his responsibility for the peace process and, accordingly, for the fate of the Palestinian people. Thus he will not carelessly jeopardise the success of negotiations which have only just commenced. At the same time, however, the President left no doubt that he expected the Israeli government to extend its moratorium on the construction of settlements in the occupied territories,” continued Spindelegger. The European Union and the Middle East Quartet are also urging Israel’s government to extend the suspension of settlement building which is due to expire this weekend.
“The process is teetering on a knife edge. Israel should send out a sign of good will in order not to jeopardise the positive dynamism that has come about as a result of resuming the negotiations,” emphasised the Foreign Minister, adding that “Israelis and Palestinians now have to prove that they really believe in this process, and renounce any actions that could destroy what has been achieved so far. A failure of the talks would probably not only mark the end of all peace efforts for several years, but would also have serious effects on the security situation across the entire region.”
The meeting also focused on the progress made by the government of Prime Minister Fayyad in creating efficient public institutions for a future state, which was also acknowledged by the World Bank and the donor community. “The most important aim of Austro-Palestinian co-operation should be to support this process. In this context Austria is making a contribution in such areas as water management and healthcare,” explained the Foreign Minister. “We expect all Palestinian camps to seek, together with President Abbas, a permanent peace solution, and we also expect the language of violence to be finally superseded by political dialogue and diplomacy,” concluded Spindelegger.
During the UN General Assembly, Austria’s Foreign Minister will also meet for bilateral talks with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abdoul Gheit, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigor Libermann, and the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amre Moussa.
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