Spain to Back Obama on Israel

Spanish PM Zapatero pushes for greater involvement in Israel-PA talks, says he'll back Obama's policies.

Maayana Miskin, | updated: 22:14

Zapatero meets Abbas
Zapatero meets Abbas
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose country will soon assume the European Union presidency, met Thursday with President Shimon Peres and discussed Israel-PA negotiations.

Zapatero expressed interest in increasing his country's role in Israel-PA talks, particularly once Spain takes on EU leadership. “We will not allow this period to pass without being committed, and without working vigorously, to advancing the peace process,” he said. “This is an important mission.”

The Spanish PM indicated that the EU under Spain's leadership would back the policies supported by United States President Barack Obama. “We will cooperate fully with President Obama's administration,” Zapatero told Peres.

Zapatero also traveled to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. PA media quoted Zapatero as telling Abbas that he hopes to “speed up” the creation of a PA-led Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

In addition to pushing for the creation of such a state, Spain hopes to shorten the process of international recognition for a PA state, the reports quoted Zapatero as saying. According to PA media, the Spanish PM also stated that the U.S. shares his goals.

During his meeting with Abbas, Zapatero joined the PA Chairman in paying his respects to the deceased former Chairman Yasser Arafat, who founded terror organization Fatah in 1959 and led it until his death in 2005.