The EU’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana has called for Middle-East leaders to get peace talks up and running again. With an increase in troops and aid giving the EU more influence in the region, he had a message for Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah. “You and your team you will be able to overcome the difficulties and, as you said in the last words that you have said, come back to a table where you could negotiate the final solution to this conflict that has lasted too long. The Palestinian people have suffered, they have suffered a lot and this is time that the occupation which is started in 1967 is over”.
Earlier in his trip Solana met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. One aim of the trip is to get Israel to re-open the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza strip and Egypt. The crossing, Gaza’s only gateway to the outside world bypassing Israel, has been closed for long periods by Tel Aviv since an attack on Israeli soldiers in June.
Progress may be slow. Hamas and Fatah are struggling to put together an internationally acceptable government in the Palestinian territories. In Israel Olmert faces a challenge balancing a new coalition that includes the ultra-nationalist leader Avigdor Lieberman.
Meanwhile on the ground three Palestinians have been reported shot by Israeli troops and one Israeli man was shot in his car by Palestinian gunmen.