Irish FM calls for humanitarian gestures toward Palestinians
Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen met yesterday in Jerusalem with his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom, and called on Israel to make humanitarian gestures toward the Palestinians as a confidence-building measure.
Cowen, who also met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President Moshe Katsav, also justified Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia's refusal to meet with Ariel Sharon, saying that "Abu Ala will not attend a meeting if he does not know what the outcome will be. The Palestinians have learned, from Abu Mazen's experience, that just having meetings does no good, and they want constructive results."
Shalom told him in response that, "One meeting cannot yield a peace deal. It takes time."
Cowen, whose government holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, said the EU has not taken a position regarding the case before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
But he noted that the EU is unhappy with the route.
"We have a serious problem in relation to the direction of the fence inside the territories," Cowen said at a news conference, adding that he recognized Israel's "legitimate" security interests. "The position of the European Union on that particular aspect has been made clear," he said.