Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin met with the president of the French Senate, Gérard Larcher, in Paris and discussed Europe's intervention in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
The settlements "are merely an excuse for the Palestinians upon entering peace negotiations", said Rivlin, adding that Europe was "doing the Palestinians' work for them".
"Hundreds of thousands of Israeli people live in the settlements, and they are not an obstacle to peace. You can't ignore the fact that Bush's letter recognizes many of them. It's just an excuse for Palestinians at the negotiating table," Rivlin told Larcher.
"The feeling is that Abbas is getting into the talks out of a sense of obligation and cannot convince his people to make compromises. Peace requires mutual interest," he added.
"The people of Israel want peace and not illusions. We must make an effort to live together instead of dividing the land."
Rivlin also stressed that the talks must first solve the issue of the right of return. "The Israelis absorbed four million Jewish refugees from Europe and the Arab states while they have been perpetuating their refugee problem for close to five generations, demanding that refugees be returned in a manner that would destroy Israel. Abbas is not persuading his people to compromise on this," he said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that the UN will celebrate its 66 anniversary in the year 2011 with the establishment of a Palestinian state. In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Fayyad said that the Israeli occupation must end by next summer.
Rivlin and his deputy, MK Majalli Whbee (Kadima), conducted their visit on their way to a Morocco conference at which President Shimon Peres canceled his participation due to the stalemate in peace talks. They invited Larcher to visit Israel and "witness firsthand its democratic conduct".
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