News / Middle East

    Hollande: Jerusalem Should Be Capital of Israeli, Palestinian State

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and his French counterpart Francois Hollande embrace during a joint news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Nov. 18, 2013.
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and his French counterpart Francois Hollande embrace during a joint news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Nov. 18, 2013.
    VOA News
    French President Francois Hollande is urging Israel and the Palestinians to finally make peace, saying Jerusalem must be the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state.

    Hollande made the comments while addressing Israel's parliament, the Knesset late Monday, urging both sides to make gestures that could further advance the peace process.

    He also sought to reassure Israel about negotiations between world powers and Iran, telling Israeli lawmakers France would never allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons.  

    Prior to the French president's speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel's right to exist as the Jewish state.  Netanyahu also offered to go to Ramallah to speak to the Palestinian people.

    Earlier Monday, Hollande called on Israel to stop building settlements in occupied territory, saying the construction complicates ongoing negotiations with the Palestinians.

    "France opposes settlements, and we call for the halting of settlements because they complicate negotiations and make the two-state solution difficult," said President Hollande.

    Hollande spoke Monday at a joint news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

    Israeli and Palestinian negotiators began a fresh round of peace talks in July, committing to carry out the talks for nine months.  The negotiations are taking place in private, but both sides have signaled that little progress has been made.

    Abbas expressed frustration Monday with the slow pace and with the way Israel has engaged in the process, despite releasing some Palestinian prisoners.

    "There is a misunderstanding amongst the Israelis that they are releasing prisoners in exchange for settlement activities, and this is not true.  This led the Palestinian negotiating team to submitting their resignation.  We have not yet looked into this resignation, and we have not said if we will agree on it or not.  We have been continuing the negotiations for nine months," said President Abbas.

    More than one-half million Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war that Palestinians envision as part of a future independent state.  The international community rejects those settlements as illegal.

    Meanwhile, a series of U.N.-backed building projects in the Gaza Strip have come to a halt.

    UNRWA media advisor Adnan Abu Hasna told Reuters Television that workers at most have sites have simply run out of material.

    "Israel bans construction material for the private sector and the international organizations. Due to this we halted work on 20 building projects. The costs of these projects are $75 million.  These projects include building schools, housing units, clinics and infrastructure inside refugee camps," said Abu Hasna.

    Israel imposed a ban on building materials after it discovered a Hamas-built tunnel last month.  Israel alleged militants planned to use the tunnel for attacks inside its territory.

    Neighboring Egypt has also closed smuggling tunnels used to take goods between Israel and Gaza.  The United Nations says that move has caused the economic situation in the Gaza Strip, where unemployment is at 30 percent, to worsen.

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    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    November 19, 2013 9:57 AM
    Sometimes it looks like Francois Hollande of France is making a move to hit the nail at the head. He was very close to the truth when he said both Israel and Palestine should have one capital at Jerusalem. Then it will not be two states: imagine capital of Israel is Jerusalem; capital of Palestine is Jerusalem. It's like saying capital of USA is Washington, and capital of Canada is Washington. For that one capital to serve both peoples of Israel and Palestine, there shall be only one state, but run as a confederation. USA and Britain are practicing it and it's working, why not for Israel? Let Hollande stand by his word and push this idea at the UN and UNSc. There is no need for two states sharing one land that originally belonged to Israel.

    Hollande sounded ambiguous again talking about occupied territory. How can they have a common capital and not live within each other's neighborhood? In a way Hollande has proposed that both peoples should be one country, then there is no need for boundaries between them. By the time they achieve peace based on Hollande's one capital proposal, nationality issue will become one, hence a common name shall be adopted. The use of tunnels to enter into Israel to work and do business will be stopped. But Israel goofed when it made public the revelation of the tunnels. Through them Israel should have captured and perhaps also destroyed all the bad eggs who make it impossible for peace. They go into Israel to earn a living, but hate to speak peace with Israel or allow others live in peace with, and see, Israel as a peaceful neighbor. They are worse criminals. The land of Israel was thriving with commerce and served as a convergence of international trade and diplomacy. The events at the Pentecost tells us that much.
    In Response

    by: barney rubble from: world
    November 20, 2013 4:43 AM
    > the Palestinians don't want to yield to peaceful co-existence
    well as I explained Abbas clearly does want peaceful coexistence and its the other way round - with Israelis wiping Palestine off the map in word and deed.
    obviously some of Hamas reject Israel's claim to statehood but as you (nearly) say: What is wrong with Hamas and Ahmedinajad expressing their opinion?
    very strange there's outrage when Israel's claim to statehood is questioned but not when its Palestine's very existence thats on the line especially when the latter is much more precarious. this isn't about pro or anti Israel - its about justice.

    by: BRS_CA from: California, USA
    November 18, 2013 5:00 PM
    The settlements are not an obstacle to peace. They are the most effective, non-violent tool Israel can use to make peace. After the '67 war, Israel built settlements and towns in the Sinai. It pressured Egypt to make peace before too many Jews moved into the Sinai and it would be too late. When Egypt finally offered peace, Israel gave up the settlements. The settlements helped to pressure Egypt to make peace.

    The Arabs do not want to live in peace with Israel. They want no Israel. The Arabs use terror to pressure Israel to give up and leave the Mid-East. Their strategy is to make life in the Mid-East seem impossible for Jews, so they will leave. Israel uses the settlements to pressure the Arabs to make peace before it is too late. The settlements say to the Arabs: "Your violence and terror are not working. We will never leave. While you dedicate your children to die, killing us, we are dedicating our children to build and live in a growing land. The longer you wait to make peace, the stronger we will become and the less chance there will be that we will need to give up land."

    Stopping the settlements will eliminate the most effective tool available to persuade the Arabs to make peace.
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    November 19, 2013 9:31 AM
    @barney rubble; What is wrong with Naftali expressing his opinion? In fact many of us out here share thar view. I am going forward to propose that since the Palestinians don't want to yield to peaceful co-existence, Israel should go ahead and push them out of Israeli borders, daring all consequences. The worst outcome may be to lose friendship with USA - which has not really been profitable in the first place
    In Response

    by: barney rubble from: world
    November 19, 2013 4:40 AM
    They want no Israel ?
    on the contrary Abbas and the PA accept Israel's claim to statehood ...
    its the reverse - settlement expansion is wiping Palestine off the map consistent with Israel's policies ..
    only tjhis week Naftali Bennet made it clear he'd never accept Palestine's right to exist.

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