Palestinian FM calls on Israel to stop settlement activities

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Kidwa on Thursday called on Israel to stop all settlement activities and the construction of a separation wall in the West Bank, warning the hope for peace in the Middle East would otherwise be dashed.

Addressing the UN General Assembly's annual ministerial debate,Al-Kidwa said Israel has continued its construction of the separation wall and establishment of new settlements in the West Bank after its unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

"All of this, in short, is not only unlawful, and not only inhuman, but will also destroy any hope for a settlement and peacebased on the two-state solution," he warned.

"The central mission for us now - for the international community - if we wish to safeguard the future of the Middle Eastand maintain the prospects for peace, is to bring about a real andcomplete cessation of all settlement activities and the construction of the wall," he added.

In his speech, Al-Kidwa also proposed three steps to promote the reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians after Israel's departure from Gaza.

He urged Israel to negotiate with Palestinians to find rapid solutions for the outstanding issues regarding Gaza, including thearea's air and land links with the outside world.

He called on Israel to implement the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings, under which Israel would withdraw troops from Palestinian cities to pre-September 2000 positions as well as the release of prisoners and detainees.

Al-Kidwa also repeated his calls for Israel to resume peace talks and start expeditiously the implementation of the roadmap peace plan.

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