Spanish Prime Minister, José Luis Zapatero, visited the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Thursday, and stated that Israel must freeze all of its settlement activities in the occupied territories, so that the peace process can resume. Zapatero stated that a full freeze of all settlement activities is a fundamental issue, and that his country wants to ensure the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

He also said that he hopes the efforts of U.S. President, Barack Obama, will manage to end the gridlock and create a momentum for launching the stalled peace process.

President Abbas said that he hopes Spain would be actively involved in supporting the peace process and ensuring it advances towards the ultimate goal.
Abbas added that he also hopes Spain would sponsor the peace process and back all peace efforts when it becomes the rotating president of the European Union.

The Palestinian president said he and his guest discussed several current issues, and that he told Zapatero that the Palestinian Authority is prepared to resume peace talks with Israel once it freezes its settlement activities.

But Israel is still rejecting a full freeze of settlement activities in the occupied territories and unoccupied East Jerusalem, and its Prime Minister, Benjamin

Netanyahu, said that he would agree to a certain reduction in expanding settlements but will not accept a full freeze.

During his visit to Israel, Zapatero met Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, who said that Israel wants the resumption of the peace process.

Peres said that Israel supports the efforts of President Obama, and added that he believes Obama’s intentions and goals are just and correct, Israeli Ynet News reported.

There are nearly 500.000 Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank and in occupied East Jerusalem. After evacuating the settlers from Gaza in 2005, Israel relocated most of them into West Bank settlements.