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Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly
24 August 2007
René van der Linden invites President of the Palestinian Authority to address PACE
The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), René van der Linden concluded his official visit to the Middle East (18-24 August) by the Palestinian Territories (23-24 August) inviting President Mahmoud Abbas to address PACE.
In his talks with René van der Linden, President Abbas stressed that security problems in the Palestinian Territories could only be overcome through cooperation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He fully supported the role of religious leaders and of inter-religious dialogue as a complement to the political process. He finally said he was ready to work, alongside Israel, with the Council of Europe to eradicate incitement to hatred from school books and the media.
With the Minister for Prisoners and Ex-prisoners Ashraf Al-Ajramy, René van der Linden raised the issue of Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) members detained by the Israeli authorities, many without charge, and said that “indeterminate administrative detention of freely-elected representatives is an affront to democracy”. Wives of detained PLC members informed Mr. van der Linden about their grave concern with regard to their husbands’ state of health and detention conditions, including extreme restrictions on contact even with their families.
In a meeting with PLC members, including those representing Jerusalem district, the President re-iterated his proposal for a tripartite Knesset-PLC-PACE forum for inter-parliamentary diplomacy. PLC members expressed their wish to intensify their cooperation with PACE, building on the existing 1998 agreement.
Other meetings included Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and representatives of NGOs. He also laid a wreath at Yasser Arafat’s tomb and visited the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.