Swiss president meets Abbas, offers help in renewing peace process

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Swiss President Guy Parmelin in Ramallah, with the former saying that Switzerland can play “an important role in the peace process.”

According to a statement by Abbas’s office, Parmelin says Israelis and Palestinians must return to the negotiating table, and offers Switzerland’s resources to that end.

“Creating a political horizon is at the heart of Switzerland’s concerns, and Switzerland is committed to supporting dialogue between the Palestinians and Israelis, because economic steps cannot prevent violence if they are not part of a political effort,” Parmelin says.

Parmelin also urges Abbas to hold national Palestinian elections. Palestinians have not voted for their national leadership in over 15 years; Abbas indefinitely delayed a push to hold elections earlier this year.

Ramallah insists that the elections were delayed because Israel had not allowed East Jerusalem Palestinians to vote. But observers largely agree that Abbas feared his internally divided, unpopular Fatah faction could face a humiliating defeat at the hands of their rivals.

“We urge the Palestinian Authority to end the division and intensify efforts to hold Palestinian national elections,” Parmelin says.

Abbas also criticizes the United States over unfulfilled pledges to reopen an American consulate in East Jerusalem. The office previously served Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza.

“Good talk needs actual implementation, especially with regard to the reopening of the American consulate in East Jerusalem,” says Abbas.

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