Fayad seeks steps against settlements

Tells ambassadors "we want the world to be aware of the problem... press conferences aren't enough."

Abbas Fayad 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Abbas Fayad 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad asked Palestinian diplomats Thursday to campaign abroad for economic steps against Israeli West Bank settlements. Israel has ignored international appeals to halt settlement expansion and a new approach is required, Fayad told a gathering of Palestinian ambassadors. "We want you to make the whole world aware of the problem because condemnations and press conferences are not enough anymore," Fayad said. Almost half a million Israelis live in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War and sought by the Palestinians for their future state, along with Gaza. Fayad singled out Britain as a model. Britain has said it is pressing European countries for tighter controls of imports to the EU from West Bank settlements, some of which are admitted at European ports as the produce of Israel and therefore enjoy tariff benefits under an Israel-EU treaty. "We call on other countries in the EU to follow suit with Britain on this issue," Fayad said. Israel has criticized Fayad's campaign and said it would lead nowhere. Two European companies, Swedish lock maker Assa Abloy AB and Dutch brewer Heineken, already have said they are pulling business out of an industrial park in a West Bank settlement. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, met with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem. Abbas urged US President-elect Barack Obama to get involved quickly in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that were launched by US President George W. Bush a year ago. The talks have not produced tangible results. The PA president said Israel and the United States should take a closer look at an Arab peace initiative that was first proposed in 2002. The plan says Israel would win full Arab recognition if it withdraws from all the lands it captured in 1967 and accepts an influx of Palestinian refugees. "We hope that the new Israeli government and the new US administration will put the Arab peace initiative on the table and I think that the solution won't be hard at all," he said. "We could have a calm Middle East, a calm North Africa and Israel will live in an ocean of peace." "This is a rare opportunity, and the Israelis should seize it," he added. Napolitano, meanwhile, said it was unrealistic to expect a peace deal by the end of this year, as initially envisioned by Bush. "But it is important that while the negotiations are going on, the circumstances of the Palestinian people should improve," he said. "Better circumstances should be created." Earlier Thursday, Napolitano was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.