Israeli-Palestinian peace talks get new impetus from Egypt, Germany, France and Jordan

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Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry said the establishment of an independent Palestinian state should not threaten Israel’s security.

“The existence of an independent and contiguous Palestinian state alongside a secure State of Israel is the main guarantee for achieving stability in our region,” he said.

From right to left, the foreign ministers of France, Jean-Yves Le Drian; Egypt, Sameh Shoukry; Jordan, Ayman Safadi and Germany, Heiko Maas, at Tahrir Palace in Cairo on Monday.Credit:AP

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. They said, however, that they were ready to work with the new Biden administration. Democrat Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20.

Trump sidelined the Palestinian Authority, recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and moved the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. His administration has also reduced financial aid to the Palestinians and reversed the course of the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements on land claimed by Palestinians.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi met with ministers on Monday, according to his office.

“A settlement of the Palestinian cause will change the reality and condition of the whole region for the better, opening up new avenues and new horizons for regional cooperation between governments and peoples,” Sisi said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces the construction of a new Israeli neighborhood near the Har Homa settlement in the West Bank last year.Credit:AP

On the same day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the construction of another 800 Jewish settler homes in the occupied West Bank, anchoring the plans in the final days of the pro-colonization Trump administration. The Palestinians condemned this construction as illegal. The timing for this move appears to be an attempt to fix Israel’s plan in indelible ink before Biden, who has criticized his settlement policies, becomes President of the United States.

Sisi said the four countries’ peace efforts were aimed at breaking the deadlock in the Middle East peace process, “taking into account political changes on the regional and international arenas.” 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 – a series of known Trump administration-brokered deals. under the name of Abraham’s Chords.

Le Drian urged Israel and the Palestinians to initiate and announce their commitment to a solution to the conflict and to refrain from taking unilateral measures.

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“This morning we continued our efforts to define these commitments according to the” small steps approach “which could first of all recreate the necessary climate of confidence between the parties”, he declared.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted that ministers had discussed “tangible confidence-building measures” that would be offered to Israel, the Palestinians and other actors.

“We remain firmly convinced that a two-state solution is the best basis for peace in the Middle East. We will continue to work to maintain this possibility – until Israel and the Palestinians return to direct negotiations, ”he tweeted.

There was no immediate comment from either Israel or the Palestinians.

In September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an international conference in early 2021 to launch a “real peace process,” based on UN resolutions and agreements with Israel. Palestinians no longer see the United States as an honest broker.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said last month that the Palestinian Authority was ready to cooperate with the new Biden administration and urged Israel to resume talks on the basis of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For more than three decades, Palestinians have sought an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, territories seized by Israel in the 1967 war. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but imposed a crippling blockade when the Palestinian militant group Hamas seized power from Abbas’s forces in 2007.

There have been no substantive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians since Netanyahu was first elected over a decade ago, and the two sides are fiercely divided on the core issues of the conflict.

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