Israel should end the occupation of the West Bank by September, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told visiting United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Friday.
Gates, who also met with Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, visited Fayyad in Ramallah to speak about a return to peace negotiations with Israel.
Fayyad stressed to Gates the importance of meeting the September deadline set in what he called the "Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State" program, a statement issued by the premier's office said.
According to this two year program, by the end of August the Palestinians would have completed building their state institutions and enforced security on the ground, to allow them to establish their independent state.
Fayyad told Gates that Israeli restrictions are obstructing Palestinian efforts to build their state institutions. He also said that Israel's settlement expansion and military incursions into Palestinian Authority-run cities in the West Bank caused problems.
The military incursions undermine Palestinian efforts to stabilize the area and enforce security, Fayyad told Gates.
Gates, according to the statement, said that he valued the efforts of Palestinian Authority, stressing his country's commitment to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a statement by the Palestinian mission in Washington Friday, they said that the "recent cycle of violence in the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem indicates the urgent need to end the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian people."
The statement condemned acts of violence against both Israeli and Palestinian civilians, urging the U.S. administration to condemn the killings on both sides "in equal and unequivocal terms."
It then called on the United States and the international community to pressure Israel to cease settlement building and "numerous other acts of aggression which remain in flagrant violation of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem."
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