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Hollande: Israeli settlements undermine peace efforts

French President Francois Hollande severely criticised on Monday Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and called for the "final and complete" ending of the settlements.


After visiting the occupied territories and meeting with Palestinian officials, Hollande spoke to the Israeli Knesset. He said that Israeli settlements "complicate negotiations and make the two-state solution very difficult."

During his visit to Ramallah, Hollande held a press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He stressed the importance of reaching a peace deal between the Palestinians and the Israeli occupation.

The French president also called for the two sides to propose initiatives that lead to a solution for the Palestinian refugees.

"Peace is the most beautiful of mankind's achievements," he said. "Peace will be your victory, your greatest victory."

To break the deadlock, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for President Abbas to visit the Knesset and, in return, he would visit Ramallah.

Netanyahu asked Abbas, for the sake of peace, to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.

"In order for the peace to be real, it must go in both directions," Netanyahu said. "One cannot demand that we recognise a Palestinian national state without demanding of them to recognise a Jewish state."

The Israeli prime minister also wanted Abbas to visit the Knesset in order to recognise, what he said, are the historical relations between Jews and the Palestinians' lands.

"I call on him today: Let us break the stalemate. Come to the Knesset. I will come to Ramallah. Come onto this stage and recognise the historical truth."

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