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European Union (EU)
9 February 2006
Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik in talks with Mustafa Barghouti, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council
Against the backdrop of the current developments in the Middle East, the Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik had a meeting with the newly elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mustafa Barghouti (Independent Palestine list).
Both sides stressed the importance of the successful organisation of the Legislative Council elections in strengthening the democratic process in the Palestinian Territories.
“The elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council and the forthcoming elections in Israel are changing the fundamentals in the region. I hope that after this the two sides will be able to actively re-engage in the efforts to find a peaceful solution in the interest of their people”, Plassnik commented. She again emphasised in this connection that the renunciation of violence and the recognition of Israel’s right to exist were essential preconditions for the EU to work together with the future Palestinian government.
Mr Barghouti acknowledged the enormous importance of the European Union’s support for the peace process and for the development of democratic Palestinian institutions. With regard to the future of the peace process, he said he had confidence in the Middle East Quartet’s “road map” peace plan.
The violent reactions in the Palestinian Territories, particularly in the Gaza Strip, to the publication of cartoons featuring the prophet Mohammed were also touched on in the discussions. Barghouti described them as unfortunate excesses by individual groups, which could in no way be seen as representing the opinion of the majority of the Palestinian population.