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Palestinian FM: Settlements are ticking bombs
by Ronen Medzini
05 Oct. 2008
Riyad al-Maliki accuses Israel of violating Annapolis commitments, warns failure to achieve genuine progress in peace talks strengthens Hamas` position
Israel failed to uphold the commitments it made to the Palestinian Authority at the Annapolis peace summit in 2007, Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Maliki charged on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking at an Israeli conference held by the Foreign Affairs Ministry on policy and strategy, al-Maliki lamented the lack of progress
`In Annapolis it was promised that by 2008 we would have an independent state and that we would have a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians,` he said.
`We believed in what was promised; that this year would be different, but we are already in October, and we are losing hope that by the end of the year we will see the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and the end of the occupation.
`They say there are three more months left till the end of the year, we`ll wait and see but for now all we can see is a flagrant violation of the Annapolis agreements, which we believed would end the suffering of both peoples.`
`Hamas the alternative`
Al-Maliki pointed to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank as the primary hurdle to peace. `The settlements are a ticking bomb and they damage the negotiations. We are committed to the two-state solution.
`Obviously there those who object and those who call for a different direction (within the Palestinian community), but (President) Mahmoud Abbas responded to those voices firmly – making it clear that our policy is the two-state solution. The continued existence of the settlements impairs this solution. We must work towards strengthening the Palestinian leadership, not weakening it.`
The Palestinian minister warned that a failure to implement the accord would lead to the rise of Hamas. `What is the alternative? Look at Hamas in Gaza. Hamas objects to the negotiations (with Israel) and is using their stagnation as an excuse to the return to violence. We are under immense pressure from the Arab League, that wants to see us moving ahead with the peace deal, but right now there is no process in motion.`
Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni addressed the forum later in the day, and responded to al-Maliki`s charges. `The negotiations should continue just as we agreed at Annapolis. Nothing will be agreed on until there is agreement about everything. I call for the negotiations to continue between us, and not in the headlines.`
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