Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wants to negotiate peace
with Israel and would like to see an offer of confidence-building
measures, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia- Margallo told
Israel’s President Shimon Peres on Tuesday.
He spoke with Peres
after meeting with Abbas in Amman on Saturday and explained to the
Israeli president that his country wanted to help ensure that a
two-state solution is reached.
“I had a meeting with President
Abbas and I felt that he is willing to negotiate a peace process. He
asked me to convey a message that he would like to see
confidence-building measures regarding political prisoners and the
problem of the settlements,” Garcia-Margallo said.
to him and to the Jordanian authorities and now to you that you can
count on Spain for any help we can offer to bring peace to this city,
this city of peace,” Garcia-Margallo said.
He spoke amidst a
renewed US push to rekindle direct Israeli- Palestinian negotiations,
which have been largely frozen since December 2008.
Palestinians have insisted that they will talk with Israel only when
it stops West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east
Israel has refused to cede to that request and has
instead called on the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table
At a conference held by the Institute for
National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, US Ambassador to
Israel Dan Shapiro said that direct negotiations were the only way to
achieve a two-state solution. He urged both Israelis and Palestinians to
take steps to create an atmosphere in which those talks could occur.
Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of a new economic initiative for
the Palestinians to help create a better climate for talks, when he
visited the region two weeks ago.
He had promised to unveil that plan last week, but has yet to do so.
their meeting, Peres told Garcia-Margallo, “Peace with the Palestinians
is Israel’s policy. To overcome the remaining gaps, we have to
negotiate, and I believe that the Palestinian Authority and its
president, President Abbas, are a partner that we can and should
The two men also discussed Syria. Peres told
Garcia-Margallo, “The whole world is concerned with [Syria’s] chemical
weapons stockpile. It is very much on the world’s agenda.”
Peres thanked him for Spain’s participation in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, along the border with Lebanon.
want to also stress your 700 UNIFIL members, which are very meaningful
and important in a very dangerous and complicated situation. This is
particularly true with the situation in Syria, and the whole world is
concerned with the chemical weapons stockpile; it is very much on the
world’s agenda,” said Peres.
Peres told Garcia-Margallo that he
welcomed the news that the Spanish police had arrested two men on
Tuesday suspected of being linked to al-Qaida.
One man, an
Algerian, was arrested in the eastern province of Zaragoza, and the
other, a Moroccan, in the southern province of Murcia, after a joint
operation between Spain, France and Morocco.
Peres said, “By
capturing them, you saved the lives of many innocent people and
demonstrated to terrorists that they will not be able to operate
Garcia-Margallo said, “We are very aware of what terror
is. We had the first attack in 1965, and we had in 2004 the bombing in
Madrid which killed 193 Spaniards. We are fighting and doing what we can
in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, and now we are also involved in Mali,
which is a big threat to Europe and in particular Spain.”
The two men also spoke about the economic ties between Spain and Israel, which amounts to $2 billion in annual trade.
Peres said the two countries are also working on high-tech research and development agreements.
While in Israel on Tuesday, Garcia-Margallo also met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
his meeting with Netanyahu, Garcia-Margallo announced that the decision
to open a Spanish consulate in Gaza was "frozen" because it was
probably not the correct move to make at that moment, Spanish media
reported. Garcia-Margallo made these remarks following an
hour-and-a-half long meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,
with whom he has both "agreements and disagreements," he said at a press
Later, following his meeting with Livni,
Garcia-Margallo reportedly explained that he "froze" the decision to
open a consular office in Gaza as soon as he learned of the plan from
the press. "I did not know about it," he stressed, saying that the
decision was made by consular officials at the initiative of the consul
general in Jerusalem, who claimed that the reason for opening an office
would be to serve Spanish people in Gaza, because doing so from
Jerusalem can be complicated. Garcia-Margallo said that the officials
had not considered the political implications when making the decision,
Spanish newspaper El Pais
am increasingly convinced that it is the right decision to freeze [the
opening of the office] until the circumstances change," Spanish news
site elPeriodico quoted him as saying. He added that this was important
because otherwise the move could be interpreted as support for Hamas,
which he emphasized was never his intention nor that of those who
proposed the idea. According to the report, Garcia-Margallo said that he
had conveyed this message to Netanyahu and stressed that the opening of
such an office would not have been in the interests of either Fatah nor
The minister made clear, however, that Madrid had not
been wrong in voting in favor of recognizing Palestine as an observer
state at the United Nations General Assembly in November, nor had they
been wrong in requesting, along with other EU countries, that products
from West Bank settlements will labelled in a way that consumers know
where they come from.
In her meeting with Garcia-Margallo, Livni
urged him to support placing Hezbollah on the European Unions list of
Reuters contributed to this report.