PA Foreign Min. Wants EU to 'Protect' Negotiations With Israel
Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, lobbied Friday in Sofia, Bulgaria for international help to protect the new round of negotiations with Israel in the face of what he said were Israeli attempts to 'derail' the negotiations, reports AFP.
"Our concern here is really how we could preserve, protect the process from being derailed by Israel and what kind of mechanisms are needed by the international community in order to protect that process," Maliki said after talks in Sofia with his Bulgarian counterpart Kristian Vigenin.
He said he hoped the international community, including the European Union, could help to ensure the talks were "continuous, serious and results-oriented.” Maliki said he counted on EU member Bulgaria, a country with close ties to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to convey his message to the European Union.
Israelis and Palestinian Authority began a new round of direct peace talks on Wednesday in Jerusalem after a nearly three-year break.
The negotiations were, however, overshadowed by Israel's announcement of plans to build 2,000 new in Judea and Samaria and in East Jerusalem.
"If you want to go with good faith into the resumption of talks... you do not go and announce publicly that you insist on building further illegal settlement units in the Palestinian occupied territories," Maliki said.
PA officials and their supporters have expressed anger at the plans, despite having been made aware of them prior to the start of talks, and despite the fact that the planned construction is to take place in areas which the PA has previously agreed would remain "part of Israel" in the "Two State Solution" they claim to support.