Hungarian FM: Neither side should act unilaterally

Exclusive: Janos Martonyi calls on Palestinians to return to negotiating table ahead of meeting with PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

311_Hungarian foreign minister Martonyi (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
311_Hungarian foreign minister Martonyi
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi on Monday called on both Israel and the Palestinians to avoid any unilateral steps that could harm the chances for a negotiated peace agreement.
He urged Israel to renew in some form the moratorium on new settlement construction, as he sat in the King David Hotel and spoke exclusively with The Jerusalem Post during his fourth visit to the country.
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The Palestinians should return to the negotiating table rather than seek unilateral statehood, Martonyi said. They should also refrain from terrorism, he said.
“We do believe that both sides should abstain from any unilateral action,” he said. “Our very strong position is that the peace process should be continued. Direct talks should be resumed and both parties have to consider very carefully what the price of a failure would be.”
He spoke as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Washington seeking a way to break the impasse in the talks, and as the Palestinians have threatened that they will seek recognition of statehood from the UN member states should negotiations fail.
Before arriving in Israel on Sunday, Martonyi visited Jordan, where he met with King Abdullah, who he said was still hopeful that the peace process could be relaunched.
“He [Abdullah] underlined Jordan’s fundamental interest that the window of opportunity [for peace] will not be closed and that with goodwill on both sides, success will be achieved,” Martonyi said.
Hungary’s position on the peace process mirrored that of the European Union, he said.
“We are all bringing the same message. The European Union has a fundamental interest that the present peace process and the direct talks should be saved,” said Martonyi, who added that there was still a chance that direct talks would be held.
At the end of the day, a negotiated two-state solution was the best way to provide security for the region and the State of Israel, he said.
Turning to Iran, Martonyi said he disagreed with Netanyahu’s assertion that a credible military threat was needed to deter the Islamic Republic.
Martonyi, whose country will take over the rotating presidency of the European Union in January, said he agreed with Israel’s assessment that Iran was a major threat. It’s a danger to the region, to Israel and to moderate Arab nations, he said.
Still, he said, “We think that we have to go on with the policy of sanctions.”

The EU and the United States have adopted economic sanctions against Iran that are more severe than those of the UN Security Council, he said. “Let us see how they work. We still believe that this is the only viable option.”
During his visit here, Martonyi met with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, as well as members of the Hungarian Jewish community.
He is scheduled to meet with the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki before he leaves on Tuesday.