Trieste (AsiaNews / Agencies) - On the sidelines of the meeting of G8 foreign ministers, the “Quartet” for Middle East peace - comprising the EU, U.S., UN and Russia - urged Israel to halt settlements in the Occupied Territories and re-open border crossings between the Palestinian and Israeli areas. The G8 group also "deplores" the violence against demonstrators in Iran who criticize election results and have asked Tehran to resolve the crisis that began in recent days through dialogue.
Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary general, said that the Quartet is “urging Israeli authorities to stop settlements, including natural growth, and remove all these blocks and open the crossings. " Ban Ki-moon hopes to see "meaningful signs of progress."
The Quartet’s demands follow weeks after a similar request by U.S. President Barack Obama, but they are being resisted by the Israeli leadership which wants to allow the continuation of "natural growth" of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. Under international law the occupying nation is banned from taking possession of the land. The Palestinians want the colonies to be stopped because their spread jeopardizes the start of a future Palestinian state. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority says he will not return to a dialogue of peace until Israel freezes all settlement construction and removes all the checkpoints in the West Bank.
In a statement at the end of the meeting, the G8 ministers underlined that they "fully respect" the sovereignty of Iran, but "deplore the post-election violence that led to the loss of civilian life of many Iranians." "We express - continues the statement - our solidarity with those who have suffered repression while demonstrating in a peaceful manner and ask Iran to respect fundamental human rights."
France and Italy would have liked a stronger statement, but Russia has warned against the possibility of isolating Iran.
The meeting of the G8, the major Western countries, was the first since violence erupted in Iran after the elections on June 12. The theme of the encounter was to have been the stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan. Iran was invited, but at the last minute the Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, withdrew.