Palestinian state must become a 'reality,' Egyptian FM addresses Paris conference

Ahram Online , Friday 3 Jun 2016

File photo: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry attends a press conference on January 13, 2016 in Berlin (AFP)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry called on the international community to fulfil its pledge to make a Palestinian state a "tangible reality", addressing a conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that opened in Paris on Friday.

Shoukry is heading the country's delegation at the international peace gathering in Paris which seeks to relaunch peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
Shoukry also expressed Egypt's readiness for the revival of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which called on Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, including east Jerusalem, in exchange for a normalisation of ties with Arab countries.

During his address the Egyptian minister called on Washington, Moscow and the European Union "to push the peace process towards a solution" as he presented his country's vision for a "comprehensive, just solution" for the Palestinian issue, which he says is central for Middle Eastern stability.

Shokury said it was imperative that the international community "commits to its pledges to bring the Palestinian state out of its theoretical and legal frame, to become a tangible reality the Palestinians live and Israelis coexist with peacefully," a foreign ministry statement said.

He highlighted that striking equilibrium "between legitimacy and a balance of interests" is a prerequisite for stability, and criticised what he described as unprecedented "negligence" of the peace process since the 1993 Oslo accords whereby Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization recognised each other for the first time.

The Egyptian minister is planning to hold bilateral talks with Arab and foreign leaders to discuss the course of the peace process.

The meeting in the French capital brings together the Middle East Quartet - which comprises the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations - as well as the Arab League, and around 20 other countries, without Israeli or Palestinian participation.

It aims to lay the ground for a fully-fledged peace conference to be held by the end of the year, but skepticism is high about whether the initiative will make genuine progress.

The gathering of ministers had been postponed from May to June to ensure the United States would attend, although Washington has made it clear it does not expect a major outcome from the new peace bid.

The initiative has already been rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who believes direct negotiations were the only way to resolve the conflict.

Egyptian President Adel-Fattah El-Sisi last month backed the Paris initiative and called on the Palestinians and Israelis to seize what he described as a "realistic" and "great" opportunity to reach a peaceful solution.

"There will be a warmer peace [between Egypt and Israel] if we provide a solution for our Palestinian brothers…and give hope to Palestinians to establish a state and offer guarantees for both countries," he said.

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