4 May 2010 - NATO PA MEDITERRANEAN AND MIDDLE EAST GROUP MEETS WITH PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI OFFICIALS
The Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (GSM) travelled to the Palestinian Territories and Israel for four days of meetings from April 26-29. Led by Vice-Chair Doru Claudian Frunzulica of Romania, the delegation met numerous Palestinian officials including members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Deputy Governor of Hebron, Samir Abuzaid. The meetings in Israel included exchanges with Members of the Knesset and Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon. The GSM visit was a fact-finding mission that aimed to inform the delegation and facilitate contact between NATO parliamentarians and their counterparts in the Knesset and Palestinian Legislative Council.
Time is running out for the peace process according to most Palestinian officials. They warn that if they are not successful in building a viable Palestinian state, they will be succeeded by far more radical leaders who will not be as willing to compromise with
Most Israeli officials, however, argue that the issue is not one of territorial concessions but rather the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish majority state, a point that they stress Palestinian officials have yet to accept. Israeli parliamentarians as well as the Vice Prime Minister noted that Israeli territorial concessions have only brought them intensified conflict. They also underlined their efforts to improve living standards in the
NATO-Israel cooperation also featured in the discussions. Israeli officials were generally pleased with the relationship but expressed hopes that it could be deepened further. Although none expected that NATO membership could be seriously considered, several Israeli officials underlined the common concerns of NATO and
The potential role of NATO in the region was discussed with both Palestinian and Israeli officials. Both parties, however, understand that NATO can only start the process of considering its potential role after