RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP)- German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer sharply rebuked the Palestinian leadership on Thursday, telling the prime minister the Palestinians will never have an independent state until "violence and terrorism" end.
Fischer”s unusually strong comments came two days after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed five Israelis in an attack in the coastal city of Netanya.
"Terrorism will have no positive results, and there will be no chance to establish an independent Palestinian state as long as violence and terrorism continue," Fischer said after meeting Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.
Israel and the United States have long demanded that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas rein in and disarm militants, a move he has so far been reluctant to take.
After the bombing, Israel said Abbas” refusal to confront the militants allowed them to continue waging attacks. But Fischer assured the Palestinians that Israel”s withdrawal next month from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements would not be the end of international efforts to bring peace to the region.
"Our policy is not fixated on Gaza, but seeks an independent, peaceful and democratic Palestinian state. This is the objective of the ”road map,”" Fischer said referring to an internationally backed peace plan.
Qureia said the Palestinians would help ensure the Gaza withdrawal passes quietly, and told Fischer Palestinian security forces were "ready to impose law and order after the withdrawal."
Abbas said he was going to Gaza later Thursday to help plan the upcoming pullout. There are fears Palestinians could loot the abandoned Jewish property.
"We are preparing for the day after the withdrawal," Abbas said, reiterating his desire that the withdrawal lead to the implementation of the U.S.-backed road map peace plan, which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Fischer met with Israeli leaders on Wednesday. He said he told them he was concerned about the barrier Israel is building in the West Bank to separate Palestinians from Israel.
Israel says the barrier is needed to prevent militant attacks. The Palestinians say the winding path of walls, trenches, fences and razor wire de facto annexes land they want for a future state and separates thousands of Palestinians from fields, schools and clinics.
"We expressed our concerns to the Israelis about the wall, about the route of the wall, and the humanitarian consequences, as well as the settlement activities," he said.