By Yelizaveta Isakova
Speaking at a PACE session in Strasbourg on Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed the Palestinian side’s readiness to return to peace talks with Israel, which Abbas stressed should comply with principles outlined by the Middle East Quartet of negotiators.
Speaking in Strasburg Abbas drew attention of PACE officials to positive changes which have taken place in his country in recent years. In particular, he said that illiteracy among the population has been almost fully rooted out and 49 higher education institutions are functioning in Palestine in which 5% of the population is studying. Abbas said that Palestinian authorities are actively involving women in public life and work in executive agencies. They are also improving judicial and financial systems and provide freedom of speech to local mass media.
Abbas thanked the PACE for granting Palestine a “Partnership for Democracy” status, which stipulates participating in PACE sessions.
He also stressed that already 17 members of the Council of Europe have recognized Palestine as an independent state with the borders of 1967. Now Ramallah counts on the support for Palestine’s request for UN membership. “We have supported Arab Spring, which goal was freedom and independence. Now the Palestinian spring has come which goals are freedom and the end of occupation. We deserve your support and we are counting on you”, Abbas said.
He stressed that the recognition of Palestine as an independent state won’t rule out the possibility of talks with Israel. However despite numerous positive changes and Palestine’s readiness for dialogue this has not brought any positive results, Abbas said. Though such talks can start there is no end in sight for them, Georgy Mirsky, senior researcher with the Institute of International Economy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said in an interview with the “Voice of Russia”.
“We have no grounds to hope that a new round of talks if they start, will change anything because the positions of the parties are the same. The Quartet, which urges the resumption of talks cannot say anything new either, it can only repeat the position, which has been known for decades. The UN Security Council voiced it with its resolution 242 back in 1967. Israel should withdraw from the territories it occupied during the Six Day War in 1967. This is the main clause, which is followed by different details in which the parties got lost for good.”
Anyway, our expert says there is a way out of this deadlock. It is clear that no Israeli government will be able to drive away almost 300,000 people from the occupied territories. That is why it is necessary to give this territory to Israel and in return to give Palestine a part of the Israeli land populated with Arabs, Mirsky proposes. The Quartet of international mediators is also confident that the settlement of the territorial dispute is one of the main conditions for future dialogue between Palestine and Israel. As the result of the meeting in New York Russia, the US, the UN and the EU demanded that Israel and Palestine should come to an agreement on the territorial dispute in the coming three months. To meet this deadline Ramallah and Tel-Aviv should start a direct dialogue already this month, which seems quite difficult due to the tough positions of both parties.