Sunday,22 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1358, (24 August - 6 September 2017)
Sunday,22 July, 2018
Issue 1358, (24 August - 6 September 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Progress depends on unity

This week’s Cairo meeting between the foreign ministers of Egypt Jordan and Palestine attempted to push forward the peace process, reports Doaa El-Bey

Shoukri with his Palestinian and Jordanian counterparts in Cairo this week
Shoukri with his Palestinian and Jordanian counterparts in Cairo this week

“It has become essential to overcome the stagnation into which the peace process has fallen and work towards initiating timetabled Palestinian-Israeli negotiations to end the Israeli occupation and reach a final settlement based on the relevant UN resolutions and the Arab initiative that was first declared at the 2002 Arab Summit,” reads the statement issued following the latest meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Palestine.

Tarek Fahmi, head of the Israeli Studies Unit at the National Centre for Middle East Studies, says the statement is significant because it posits the Arab initiative and a two-state solution as the only basis for a regional peace agreement, while professor of political science Gamal Shaqra argues it underlines the central importance of declaring a Palestinian state, respecting pre-1967 borders and the status of holy sites in the occupied territories. Egypt and Jordan are involved, he added, because they have both signed peace agreements with Israel and retain credibility as mediators.

The foreign ministers’ statement stressed that Israel must respect the legal and historic status of Al-Aqsa Mosque and desist from any unilateral actions that undermine the Islamic and Christian identity of East Jerusalem.

The mosque, says Fahmi, will be the focus of unrest in the next few months if Israel introduces unilateral security measures which the Palestinians reject.

The Israeli decision to install metal detectors around the site last month provoked the most serious clashes in Jerusalem for years. The Israeli government was subsequently forced to backtrack and remove the detectors.

While the three ministers expressed their appreciation of the role played by the US in pushing the peace process forward they said they hoped for more intensive engagement in order to achieve progress.

Shaqra said Palestinian divisions were hampering the attempts of Egyptian and Jordanian mediators and undermining the Arab position as a whole. “The Palestinians need to end the rifts so we can all work together towards establishing a Palestinian state,” he said.

The foreign ministers also discussed coordinating their positions ahead of the 72nd regular session of the UN General Assembly which will be held in New York next month, and addressed hopes for the regional visit of a high level US delegation which begins today, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid .

The delegation, which includes US President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, the White House’s senior peace negotiator Jason Greenblatt and the deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, is scheduled to meet with officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

This is the second meeting between the tripartite group of foreign ministers. Whether the meetings eventually bear fruit depends on several factors, said Shaqra, including “the overall situation in the Arab world, Trump’s vision of peace and whether inter-Palestinian reconciliation is a success”.

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