Right to self-defence indivisible; avoiding Palestine-Israel violence crucial: Shoukry in Munich Group

Ahram Online , Thursday 11 May 2023

The right to self-defence is indivisible for both the Palestinian and Israeli sides, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said, emphasising that "we aim to sidestep it to avoid entering into a vicious cycle of reciprocal violence.”

From left, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi attend a joint news conference after their talks on the Middle East peace process, at the Federal Foreign Office in Munich, Germany, Thursday May 11, 2023. AP

Shoukry spoke during a joint presser of the Munich Group – which also includes Germany, France, and Jordan – on Thursday in Berlin, referring to the foreign double standards concerning the right to self-defence amid the military escalation between Palestine and Israel.

German Foreign Affairs Minister Annalena Baerbock said Israel “has the right to self-defence,” adding, however, that Israel "has to" maintain proportionality in its reaction.

French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna seconded Baerbock concerning the proportionality in reaction but added that “in no case should civilians be killed.”

Air strikes by the Israeli army since Tuesday have killed 25 people in Gaza, a death tally that comprises fighters and civilians, including children, said officials in the blockaded Palestinian enclave, according to AFP.

In response, Shoukry said rights are complete and indivisible.

“No party has rights that exceed the rights of others. Entering the cycle of violence is linked to those who initiate violence,” he added.

The right of the Palestinian people to establish their own state must be respected and be acted upon, the Egyptian top diplomat said.

“Also, there is certainly a right to self-defense, but it is an indivisible right as it is granted to both parties, but this is what we seek to avoid in order not to enter into a vicious circle of reciprocal violence that does not lead to the interest of both parties and exacerbates the issue,” Shoukry noted.

Direct talks needed

The Egyptian foreign minister stressed that an open dialogue between the Palestinians and Israelis is necessary to resolve the conflict.

He noted that the recent meetings in  Aqaba and Sharm El-Sheikh, which brought together Palestinian and Israeli officials, represented progress in terms of implementing direct negotiations.

Shoukry added that common ground was reached in these recent meetings on issues such as a cessation of Israeli military operations, refraining from taking unilateral steps, and ending Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes and construction of illegal settlements.

Still, he stressed, agreement on the mechanisms of implementing the outcomes of these meetings remains a paramount goal.

Shoukry added that it is imperative that the Palestinian side address issues surrounding militant groups in the occupied territories to ensure peace and stability.

“Egypt will continue to work within the framework of the Munich group to achieve progress on the issue,” noted Shoukry while the group’s role in addressing the crisis.

He stressed that Egypt bears a special responsibility in safeguarding the rights of the Palestinian people and will continue to play its role as a mediator to resolve the conflict.

Finally, Shoukry reaffirmed Egypt's firm stance on the necessity of a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders and Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state as the way to end the conflict.

The Munich Group was formed in 2020 as a quadripartite mechanism between Egypt, Jordan, Germany and France to mediate toward reaching a resolution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This group meeting was called in April by German, the German foreign minister in response to the marked rise in violence in the occupied territories in renecent months, especially after the re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in December 2022.

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