Norway urges parties to continue Middle East peace talks

The peace talks between Israel and the PLO have entered a critical phase now that Israel has decided not to extend its partial moratorium on the construction of settlements in the West Bank. “I urge Israel and the Palestinians to do their utmost to make it possible to continue the negotiations,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that the construction of settlements be halted in order for the negotiations to continue. He will now consult the Arab League before making a decision on the future of the negotiations.

“It is regrettable that Israel has chosen not to extend the freeze on the construction of settlements. In Norway’s view, the settlements on occupied land are a violation of international law and constitute one of the most serious threats to the peace process and the two-state solution,” said Mr Støre.

Foreign Minister Støre recently chaired a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for assistance to the Palestinians in New York. At the meeting, the donor group noted that substantial progress has been made in the Palestinian state-building process during the past year. The World Bank presented a report that underscored that the Palestinian Authority has developed robust public institutions and is ready to establish a state in the near future.

“Recent reports by the World Bank show that the Palestinian state-building process is moving forward, and that it will be possible to establish a Palestinian state relatively soon, provided that the political situation is conducive,” said Mr Støre. “This should put further pressure on the parties to make progress in the negotiations on final status issues.”

“It is therefore crucial that ongoing negotiations on a two-state solution yield results,” said Mr Støre.
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