Palestinian Minister for Religious Affairs: “We do not hate Jews, but rather the occupation”

The Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs claims: “They cannot accuse us of occupying Jewish land”. Both leaders met at a round table discussion in Barcelona on the occasion of Sant’Egidio ecumenical meeting.


October 5, 2010 12:02 AM

Barcelona (ACN).- The Palestinian Authority Minister for Religious Affairs, Mahmud Al-Habash, and the Israeli Minister for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Yoel Edelstein,  participated in a round-table this Monday in Barcelona where the Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory became the main issue of discussion. “We do not hate Jews, but rather the occupation”, said Al-Habash. The Israeli minister replied: “They cannot accuse us of occupying Jewish land”. Precisely this Saturday, Palestinians announced that they would end peace conversations with Israel if they do not stop the expansion of their settlements in occupied territories.

The issue of Jewish settlements continues to be difficult between Palestinians and Israelis, as the round-table in Barcelona has demonstrated. Both ministers were in the Catalan capital to discuss peace prospects in the Middle East. Their remarks came as Palestinians urged the Israeli Government to introduce a new moratorium on the construction of new settlements (the last one expired a few days ago) if they wish to continue talks. Dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians has been recently revived by the US Government, although it is in crisis due to the end of the moratorium.

The Palestinian minister Al-Habash said that it is not positive “to try to solve a conflict when its causes are still arising”. The politician also referred to the frequent disputes between Israelis and Palestinians. He mentioned an attempted attack today in a Mosque by a group of six armed Israelis.

The Israeli minister urged both sides to focus on education to avoid confrontation. “He does not want his grandsons to be suicide bombers”, he said, referring to Al-Habash. “I do not want mine to be violent soldiers”, he added. 

The round-table in Barcelona was organised as part of the International Meeting for Peace Prayer, organised by the Community of Sant'Egidio. Both leaders said they are committed to peace and reviving dialogue between their communities.