Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R), President of the Socialist International George Papandreou (C) and Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak (L) shake hands during a Socialist International congress in Lagonisi July 1, 2008. The three-day congress discusses climate change, peace and the resolution of conflicts, the world economy and migration.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and former Israeli Prime Minister and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak met shortly in Lagonisi on Tuesday.
Abbas reiterated that Israel must prove that it wants peace, implementing, in the first stage, certain steps, such as stopping the construction of settlements, opening some 670 checkpoints on the "wall that destroys the life of tens of thousands of Palestinians" and beginning the process for the release of 1,100 Palestinian prisoners.
Iraq President Jalal Talabani (L), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (C) and Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak talk during a Socialist International congress in Lagonisi July 1, 2008. The three-day congress discusses climate change, peace and the resolution of conflicts, the world economy and migration.(XinhuaReuters Photo)
Abbas hailed the Arab League initiative, underlining that it improves relations between Israel and 57 Arab and Islamic states, while calling on Israel to accept it.
The Palestinian Authority has accepted the "road map", the Arab initiative and "Bush's vision", Abbas stated, referring to the creation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital based on the 1967 agreements.
He also stated that the Palestinian Authority will do its best to have the political process continued and "make an effort to end the military coup that has isolated the Gaza Strip."
Barak blamed Hamas for the "explosive situation", stressing that this policy fuels suspicion and fear among the Israelis.
He also stated that suicide attacks will have to be tackled in a decisive manner, adding that the Palestinian Authority will have to give tangible proof of its efforts through the arrest, trial, sentencing and imprisonment of terrorists.
Abbas and Barak were attending the 23rd Socialist International Congress underway in Lagonnisi, Athens at the invitation of the Greek main opposition party PASOK leader George Papandreou, who was unanimously re-elected as Socialist International's president on Monday.
(Xinhua News Agency July 2, 2008)