EU 'should deny access to settlers, not only goods'

'Israel hindering talks', Abbas advisor; Pope visit amid tension

14 January, 18:22

    Nemer Hammad, one of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas's closest advisors. Nemer Hammad, one of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas's closest advisors.

    (by Elisa Pinna) (ANSAmed) - ROME- ''Strong international pressure'' on Israel is required, as the country continues to hinder peace talks with Palestinians despite US Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts, ANSA was told in an interview by one of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas's closest advisors.

    Nemer Hammad, previously PLO ambassador to Rome, has launched an appeal to the European Union to tighten the boycott that the EU has in place on products from Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian Territories. He called on the EU to boycott settlers as well, ''without any exceptions'', noting that only through international isolation was South Africa able to rid itself of apartheid. ''There are seven ministers in the Netanyahu government - including Foreign Minister Lieberman - who live in illegal settlements according to UN rulings,'' Abbas's advisor said, suggesting that European countries should consider a ''blockade'' at the borders against these politicians as well as all the inhabitants of the Jewish outposts built within the 1967 Palestinian borders. ''Time is of the essence,'' he noted. The negotiations foresee nine months of talks set to end on April 30. Six months have already gone by ''without Israel making any concession''. Moreover ,Netanyahu's negotiators have created ''new obstacles'', Hammad said, ''including a demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a 'Jewish State'.'' ''The incredible thing is that they are demanding this only of Palestinians. Why don't they submit an official request to the UN, or the United States, or Italy? The reason is clear: if we recognize Israel as a 'Jewish State', the Israeli Arab minority (about 25% of the population) would lose their right to citizenship and Mahmoud Abbas would go down in history as the man who 'sold' his own brethren,'' he said. Despite Kerry's efforts, the Palestinian representative does not believe that the talks will lead to anything and instead expects to see a difficult future for the region. Pope Francis's visit may also happen ''at a very delicate moment''. While in these hours US Secretary of State John Kerry is speaking about the Middle East and Syria with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Hammad underscored that if an agreement is not reached by April (when the 9 months set down by US mediators ends), the Palestinian Authority will resume its currently suspended initiatives at the UN and the International Criminal Court.

    In retaliation, Israel ''has already threatened to unilaterally annex Palestinian Territories'', and thus the situation may be very tense when Pope Francis visits Jerusalem and Bethlehem on May 25-26. Abbas's advisor noted that, having said this, the pope's visit will have a ''strong symbolic importance'' even though, at the negotiations level, ''Israel will not accept anyone''.

    ''Israeli authorities don't even want US mediation, just imagine whether they would ever agree to a role by the Vatican or the Pope,'' he added. (ANSAmed).

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