Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa has demanded the evacuation of settlements as a condition to the continuation of peace negotiations.
Moussa made the demand during a speech at a conference in Italy Friday, which President Shimon Peres also participated in.
“Everything has to be on the table. Jerusalem, refugees, borders and security arrangements, and of course complete normalization with Israel, but first, the evacuation of the settlements,” Moussa said.
The secretary-general welcomed the US-sponsored Mideast peace conference scheduled to take place in November, and said he was looking forward to achieving “great things”.
“We need to be sure of Israel’s intentions. The settlements continue to expand. We have hopes for the Bush initiative and the Arab initiative, but we won’t give a gift without first getting something in return,” Moussa said.
Peres congratulated Moussa at the end of his speech, and said that Israel was always looking towards peace and not war.
“Israel made peace with Egypt and Jordan, and now there more serious attempts are taking place between both leaders, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians,” Peres said.
The president added that negotiations between the two parties were complicated, and that the price of peace was high. He also commented on the threat of a nuclear Iran.
“The main problem in the middle east and the entire world is Ahmadinejad. Today there is a chance that Europe and the United States will form a united front against Iran,” Peres said.
Regarding Gaza, the president said that Israel had no intention of inflicting collective punishment on citizens of the Strip.
“Hamas and the economic embargo are internal Palestinian problems. The world has to understand that Hamas is a branch of the Iranian ruling power. It launches rockets at Israel at all times, it hurts our children and our citizens. Israel has no choice. It has to respond to the fire on its children, it has to maintain its security, there will be no compromise there,” Peres concluded.