by: Ilse Strauss
Tuesday, 12 January 2021 | The foreign ministers of Germany, France and Jordan sat down with their Egyptian counterpart in Cairo yesterday to discuss ways of launching a renewed effort to resuscitate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
According to a joint statement, the bevy of foreign ministers mulled over “potential steps to advance the Middle East peace process” aimed at “re-launching a credible peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry clarified that such a solution would entail a “just and comprehensive political settlement” based on the establishment of a Palestinian state with a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem on territory Israel recaptured in the defensive 1967 Six Day War from the Jordanians, which occupied the area after the 1948 War of Independence.
None of the foreign ministers, however, offered insight into how this effort might differ from the countless other peace endeavors over the past 70 odd years, which ultimately proved an exercise in futility, with the Palestinians either refusing outright to join the negotiations unless their preconditions were met or simply walking away from the negotiation table refusing to compromise.
In fact, apart from the Oslo Accords to some extent, the only peace push that has yielded fruit—turning decades-old foes into friends and bringing stability to one of the most volatile regions on earth—has been US President Donald Trump’s Abraham Accords. The umbrella agreement saw first the United Arab Emirates normalize ties with Israel and then Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco following suit.
While the majority of international leaders and world bodies hailed the historic peace, the Palestinians lambasted the Arab nations as traitors to the Palestinian cause, obstinately refusing to join the circle of peace. In fact, the Palestinians have continuously boycotted the Trump administration’s peace efforts ever since President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocated the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the City of Gold.
No longer viewing the US as a reliable broker for peace, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in September called for an international conference in early 2021 to kick-start a “genuine peace process” based on past UN resolutions and agreements with Israel—as opposed to the terms of President Trump’s proposed peace plan.
According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi told Abbas last month that he would spearhead the process—with a little help from France, Germany and Jordan.
The timing of the get-together between the foreign ministers of the countries mentioned in the Channel 12 report also seems pertinent. US President-elect Joe Biden is set to take office next week, which the Palestinians—and apparently the Egyptians—view as an open door, with PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki proclaiming last month that the Palestinian Authority was ready to cooperate with the incoming Biden administration.
Will the Egyptian initiative take off or will its ideal of taking the lead in future Israeli–Palestinian peace negotiations remain but talks between foreign ministers? Moreover, can an Egyptian initiative succeed where so many other efforts have failed? However, perhaps the most important question to ask is whether the Palestinians are finally willing to grasp Israel’s outstretched hand of peace.
Posted on January 12, 2021
Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 12, 2021)
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