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Europeans demand more Israeli concessions

The foreign ministers of 10 European states said Israel
should make more concessions for peace.

In an open letter published in the French daily Le Monde,
the foreign ministers said the U.S.-backed road map peace plan has failed and
that it’s time to convene a new Israeli-Palestinian peace summit. The letter
was addressed to Tony Blair, the newly appointed special envoy to the Middle
East of the Quartet—the United States, the European Union, Russia and the
United Nations.

The ministers—from Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, France, Greece,
Italy, Portugal, Malta, Romania and Slovenia—called on Blair to tell Israel to
make more concessions to support Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Among their objectives the ministers specified “the transfer
of all taxes due, the release of the thousands of prisoners who do not have
blood on their hands, the release as well of the main Palestinian leaders to
ensure succession within Fatah, a freeze in new settlements and the evacuation
of unauthorized settlements.”

The call to release “main Palestinian leaders” likely
refers to jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted several years
ago by an Israeli court on five counts of murder. Barghouti is believed to be
responsible for masterminding dozens of terrorist attacks against Israeli
civilians.

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