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12 June 2007
Verhagen sketches outlines of Middle East peace process
12 Jun 2007
Listening to what the Israelis and Palestinians want is crucial to the peace process, foreign minister Maxime Verhagen said in a speech in Cairo on 11 June.
Speaking at the Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, Verhagen called on Israel and the Palestinians to take steps that will demonstrate their goodwill. The Palestinians should be given more freedom of movement, he said, and Israel should freeze its settlement activity and pass on the tax revenues that it collects for the Palestinian Authority. On the Palestinian side, the missile attacks should stop and the government should endeavour to secure the release of Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit and begin reforms to the Palestinian security sector.
A viable, sovereign state for the Palestinians should be based on the borders of 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Access to holy places should be guaranteed for all faiths. The minister does not consider return by Palestinian refugees to Israel practicable; instead Israel and the international community should give them compensation. A peace agreement should safeguard the Jewish character of the state of Israel and meet Israel’s security needs.
The minister also stressed that the international community can play a major role in achieving a peace agreement. An international military presence should guarantee security and development in the region.
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