Italian FM: Negotiate with Hamas

Massimo D'Alema: Without speaking to those who govern Gaza, peace process will not move ahead.

massimo d alema 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
massimo d alema 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
"Without engaging in dialogue with the Palestinians who govern Gaza, the peace process will have difficulties in moving ahead," Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema said Monday at a meeting with foreign media in Rome. He added that many Israeli citizens agreed with him on this issue. "Peace in Ramallah will depend on peace in Gaza," he said. "War and peace cannot be separated by just a few kilometers." D'Alema excluded the possibility of sending a multinational peacekeeping force into Gaza, as he had proposed when Italy first decided to send troops to the UNIFIL forces in Lebanon after the war. "We were able to contribute to UNIFIL then because there was an agreement between the two parties in [the] conflict, plus a UN Security Council Resolution. Today, we have nothing to justify sending forces to Gaza to protect both sides." "Annapolis hangs on a thread," he added. "Almost nothing has been implemented since, hardly any roadblocks removed by Israel. At the time, there was an Arab initiative that included recognition of Israel, but Israel did not accept." He also referred to the "truce" offered by Hamas and refused by Israel. When asked how the international community could intervene now, he he threw up his hands and said, "Both sides must stop the violence. We have protested against the launch of Kassams and against Israel's retaliation. Hundreds have been killed." Regarding Iran, D'Alema stated that while Italy appreciated Iran's readiness to clarify its past violations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the UN Security Council was "examining Iran's present programs and its failure to comply with resolutions demanding suspension of uranium enrichment processes." Iran's compliance "would open the way to direct negotiations" that would in no way exclude "the right to develop nuclear energy for civilian purposes." D'Alema's term as foreign minister, which will end with Italian elections on April 13, is credited with the decision to send a large Italian contingent to the UNIFIL peacekeeping forces in Lebanon.