Egyptian-European attempts to revive French peace initiative continue

Ahram Online , Friday 17 Jun 2016

Egyptian, French and Irish officials met in Cairo to discuss the revival of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

File photo: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry attends a press conference (AFP)

The past few days have witnessed diplomatic efforts in ‎Egypt to revive ‎the French initiative to promote peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.‎ 

Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry met in Cairo ‎on Thursday with ‎Pierre Vimont, France's special envoy for Middle East peace, to discuss the results of the Paris peace conference held earlier this month.‎

According to the Egyptian foreign ministry’s official spokesperson, Ahmed ‎Abu Zeid, the two officials discussed preparations for a new peace ‎conference to be held before the end of the year.‎

Vimont also shared with Shoukry the results of his latest talks with Israeli and ‎Palestinian officials, though no further details were given about the ‎meetings. ‎

Vimont arrived in Cairo on Wednesday for a two-day visit where ‎he met with a number of Egyptian officials. ‎

The peace initiative proposed earlier this year by France ‎was an attempt to revive talks between the Palestinians ‎and the Israelis after the collapse of negotiations two years ago.‎

The French initiative is a two-phase conference, with the first phase, which was held earlier this month, aiming to re-launch the peace process. The second phase will be an international conference attended by Palestinian and Israeli officials.

However, Israel insists on having direct talks with Palestinians without international intervention.

Shoukry also met Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and ‎Trade Charles Flanagan, who arrived on Thursday in Cairo from ‎Israel for a two-day visit ‎

Flanagan was among the European foreign ministers and diplomats ‎who attended a summit in Paris in May to launch the French-sponsored ‎peace initiative, which has been rejected by Israel.‎

Flanagan also discussed with Shoukry the latest regional developments, ‎especially the peace process in the Middle East and Egyptian-‎Irish bilateral relations.

The Irish foreign minister, who is currently on a tour of the Middle East, has ‎also visited Israel and Palestinian territories to attend talks with officials from both sides about the revival of the peace process ‎and the French peace initiative. ‎

Flanagan described ‎his talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “very positive and ‎constructive,” though Netanyahu’s office did not ‎comment on the visit. ‎

Meanwhile, Egyptian ambassador to Tel Aviv Hazem Khairat urged ‎on Thursday Israelis and Palestinians to move forward towards peace ‎in a pubic conference.‎

Khairat stated that even through the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks ‎witnessed "stagnation"; the Egyptian government still believed that ‎a two-state solution was possible.‎

According to Israeli media, this was the first public appearance for the ‎ambassador, who was appointed to his position in June ‎‎2015.‎

Khairat added that Egypt supported the French peace initiative and ‎considered it a major step towards regional peace. ‎

Despite the international support for the French Peace ‎initiative, it has been rejected by Netanyahu, who said that direct negotiations were the only way to resolve the conflict.‎ 

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

El-Sisi said that Egypt would continue to support initiatives that lead to ‎a fair, comprehensive and lasting solution that would help ‎establish a Palestinian state in accordance with the 1967 borders.

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