Foreign Minister Tuomioja after meeting with Abbas: The EU is ready to endorse the government of national unity
Finland’s Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja was very optimistic with regard to the envisaged Palestinian government of national unity after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in New York City on Tuesday, 19 September. “A government of national unity could put the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians back on track again”, he said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is about to appoint a government of national unity with Hamas, came to talk about his plans with the 25 European Union foreign ministers in New York City prior to his meeting with the Middle East Quartet, i.e. the UN, the EU, the United States and Russia, on Wednesday and the UN Security Council on Friday.
“We support the appointment of a government of national unity which is committed to the three preconditions set by the international community”, said Tuomioja. The three preconditions are Israel’s recognition, renouncement of violence and adherence to the previous agreements signed by the Palestinians. If the government as a whole agrees to this, we endorse it, said Tuomioja, but pointed out that Hamas is still a terrorist organisation and that the EU has not changed its approach to it.
Tuomioja said that President Abbas had also set his own preconditions before he would appoint the new government. He said the captured Israeli soldier must be released as well as the Palestinian parliamentarians and cabinet members. Also, he demanded the cessation of violence in the Palestinian territories by any individual groups. “We fully agreed with him”, said Tuomioja.
A situation with a caretaker government has brought on great difficulties in the Palestinian territories, said Tuomioja, and not the least because of the economic chaos. Tuomioja said President Abbas appealed to the EU foreign ministers to pitch in in order to be able to pay civil servants their paychecks after months without salaries. The coffins of the EU have pretty much been exhausted, said Tuomioja, and urged Israel to unblock the transfer of hundreds of millions in tax payments to the Palestinians.