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Time for Talks is Now, Says IPU Middle East Committee

A delegation from IPU’s Committee on Middle East Questions says there is an urgent need for regular and inclusive dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian legislators to begin now. It would help ensure progress on peace negotiations by capitalizing on political developments in the region. The statement follows a recently concluded visit to the West Bank and Israel as the second part of a mission to the Middle East. In January, an IPU Committee delegation went to Gaza to assess for itself the socio-economic and political impact of the conflict and its repercussions on the workings of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The delegation, led by Britain’s Lord Judd and including IPU Secretary General Anders B. Johnsson and MPs from France, Sweden and Norway, met representatives from diverse political parties and factions! from both parliaments. With both the Israeli and Palestinian parliaments active members of IPU, the delegation concluded the Organization could act as an “honest broker” for the Palestinians to facilitate dialogue between legislators from both sides. The delegation has also recommended that IPU continues and extends its work to help build and strengthen the administration and functioning of the PLC beyond June 2013 when an European Union funded programme of support is due to end. Since 2007, the PLC has been largely paralysed by divisions among the two main Palestinian political groups in the West Bank and Gaza, logistical constraints and the administrative detention of large numbers of PLC members in Israeli prisons. Elections for a new PLC are long overdue