Palestinians seek 'mediation with muscle'

The Palestinian envoy to the United States has called on other countries, especially within Europe, to step up their role in Middle East peace negotiations, which have stalled under the leadership of the "quartet" powers.

    The peace process has stalled under the quartet leadership

    Afif Safia, in remarks at a private seminar held at the US Congress on Tuesday, said he hoped that the European Union or another third party "would step in decisively" to help in ending the impasse.

    The United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, known as the "quartet" powers, have led efforts to forge a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Safia said that the current stalemate provided a good opportunity for the European Union to increase its role in the process.

    "Europe was often disappointed that it was relegated to the status of payer and not player," Safia said at the event, sponsored by the Council for the National Interest, an independent policy group focusing on the Middle East.
      
    "We need international mediation, but some international mediation with some muscle.This might hold Israel accountable and ensure that it fulfils commitments," he said. 

    Unmanageable situation
      
    Israel is demanding that the Palestinian Authority should disarm all armed factions before re-opening talks for a permanent solution to the Middle East conflict.

    Safia, however, accused Israel of being insincere in its calls for calm in the Palestinian territory. 
      

    "The Israeli government still wants to get as much of our geography as possible with as little of our demography as possible"

    Afif Safia, Palestinian
    envoy to the US

    "They want the situation to become unmanageable and they want a scenario where they can pretend that there is no Palestinian partner and interlocutor," he said.
      
    "The Israeli government still wants to get as much of our geography as possible with as little of our demography as possible."  
      
    He expressed admiration for the diplomatic efforts and know-how of the quartet powers and James Wolfensohn, the former World Bank president and envoy for the quartet, which created the "roadmap" for Middle East peace.
      
    But Safia said more robust enforcement of the agreements was needed.
      
    Meanwhile, Ehud Olmert, the acting prime minister of Israel, said on Tuesday he hoped to open peace negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, after the two sides hold their respective elections.

    Palestinian legislative council elections are to be held on 25 January, while voting in Israel's general election is set for 28 March.

    SOURCE: AFP


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