Dutch FM: take steps in peace process now
Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal, who is on a tour of the Middle East, says that the unrest in the Arab World is yet another reason to take real steps in the Middle East peace process. He said the European Union should play a substantial role in the process in an attempt to make real progress.
Mr Rosenthal made his remarks on Tuesday during meetings with key players in the peace process in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. He said he was looking forward to a meeting of the Quartet on the Middle East the US, EU, UN and Russia in Brussels in March. The meeting will also be attended by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Dutch foreign minister said the EU initiatives should make a contribution to US efforts in the peace process.
Mr Rosenthal pointed out that his meetings in the Middle East were taking place against the backdrop of unrest in the Arab World. He said there was “a link” between the unrest in Arab nations and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even though there was no causal connection. Mr Rosenthal’s Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday evening that the unrest in the Arab World had nothing to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but was the result of domestic problems in the countries involved.
Mr Rosenthal met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres on Tuesday. After his meetings in Israel, he travelled to Ramallah in the West Bank, where he met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki. The latter said after the meeting that the Palestinian Authority would not unilaterally proclaim a Palestinian state. He also said that the Netherlands could use its friendly relations with Israel to be “influential” in the peace process.
Minister Rosenthal reiterated that the Netherlands supports a two-state solution to the conflict, and regards the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as an obstacle to the peace process. He said he was impressed by economic developments in the West Bank. The minister said he would consider whether Palestinian students could get a scholarship to study in the Netherlands.http://cdn.radionetherlands.nl/data/files/399px-uri-rosenthal-portret_3.jpg
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