Egypt on Monday hosted foreign ministers from Germany, France and Jordan to discuss ways to relaunch peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, a week before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
In Cairo, the country’s foreign ministry said the purpose of the meeting was to urge Palestinians and Israelis to negotiate a “just and comprehensive political settlement” on the basis of the achievement of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as the capital in the territory captured by Israel in 1967 Six Day War.
Palestinians have suffered many setbacks under the outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump and have complained about what they say are pro-Israel measures by Washington.
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The Palestinian Authority has boycotted the Trump administration since it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocated the American embassy there from Tel Aviv. Trump has since slashed financial aid to the Palestinians and turned the tide of the alleged illegitimacy of Israeli settlements on land claimed by Palestinians.
US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, January 27, 2020 (AP Photo / Evan Vucci)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi said last month that Cairo was working on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “taking into account regional and international changes”. He was apparently referring to the election of Biden and the establishment of ties with Israel by four Arab countries – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
France’s foreign ministry said the meeting would discuss ways to get Israelis and Palestinians to engage in talks, building on “the positive regional context” linked to recent normalization agreements.
“It is about contributing, at the same time, to a resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, with a view to resolving the conflict within the framework of international law,” the statement said.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted before leaving for Cairo on Sunday that ministers would discuss “what concrete steps” could help “build trust” between Israel and the Palestinians.
In September, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, called for an international conference in early 2021 to launch a “real peace process”, based on UN resolutions and agreements made with Israel. Palestinians no longer see the United States as an honest broker.
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said last month the PA is ready to cooperate with the new Biden administration and urged Israel to resume talks on the basis of a solution two states for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Also last month, Channel 12 reported that Sisi told Abbas when they met in Cairo that he intended to negotiate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The unfunded report said the talks would be held under the auspices of Egypt, Jordan, France and Germany.
Abbas reportedly said that if he supported the Egyptian initiative, he still intended to push for an international conference that will include the so-called Middle East Quartet (US, UN, EU and Russia) and has contacted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the matter.