Iceland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Össur Skarphéðinsson, today completed his visit to the occupied Palestinian territories which began in Gaza on Wednesday. Saturday he had meetings with Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat and Yasser Abed Rabbo, General Secretary of the PLO in Ramallah.
Foreign minister Skarphéðinsson stated his country's full support for the resumption of negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Abbas said that he hoped that the Quartet of the United Nations, the EU, Russia and the USA could come up with clear Terms of Reference at their meeting this week. That constitutes the parametres already stated by US President Barack Obama on the recognition of the 1967 borders and a timeline for upcoming negotiations.
Mr Skarphéðinsson declared Iceland's intention to vote for resolutions recognizing Palestine and on its membership to the United Nations if submitted to the UN General Assembly this September. During his visit Mr Skarphéðinsson and the Palestinian foreign minister, Riad al Malki, signed an a,greement on political consultations between Iceland and the government of Palestine and raised the status of the Palestinian representation to Iceland from delegation to mission.
Foreign minister Skarphéðinsson visited the Gaza-strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem during his stay and also had meetings with the foreign minister of Jordan, Nasser Judeh, and Prince Hashim of Jordan in Amman as well as with the leadership of the Arab League in Cairo.
The foreign minister condemned the Gaza blockade and demanded that Israel lift it immediately. He also declared his dismay over the wall surrounding the Palestinian territories creating a rift in the society. He called on Israel to cease all settlement activities, house evictions and demolitions.
In his meetings with the Palestinian leadership the foreign minister emphasized the necessity for Palestinians to reconcile and create a unity government. If that didn't materialize it made it more difficult for friends of Palestine to support them, facing more difficulties in swaying the international opinion in the run up to September.
Abbas stated that everyone was working hard for such a reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and he himself was on his way to Cairo for meetings. Iceland and the Palestinian leaders will continue consultations in the coming months leading up to the General Assembly.