Egypt, Jordan renew call for Palestinian state ahead of US visits

Ahram Online , Thursday 30 Mar 2017

A handout picture provided by the Palestinian Authority's press office (PPO) on March 29, 2017, shows Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (L), Jordan's King Abdullah II (C) and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas during a meeting, on the sidelines of the Arab League summit in the Jordanian Dead Sea resort of Sweimeh. (AFP)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, King Abdullah of Jordan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas affirmed their commitment to a two-state solution to the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict in a tripartite gathering in Jordan on Wednesday.

The talks between the three leaders, held on the sidelines of the Arab League Summit by the Dead Sea, emphasised "Egypt's and Jordan's backing for the legitimate rights of Palestinians, in addition to setting up an independent Palestinian state," according to a statement by Egypt's presidency late on Wednesday.

The trio called for a new round of peace talks based on a two-state solution as well as reviving a 2002 Arab peace initiative that offered Israel diplomatic recognition from Arab countries in return for a statehood deal for the Palestinians.

Israel has rejected the plan's proposal that it withdraw from land it occupied in 1967.

The trio looked at "efforts to back the Palestinian Authority and means of bolstering regional and international efforts to resume Israeli-Palestinian negotiations," the statement by Egypt's presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef added.

Most Arab nations and Palestinians want to establish an independent Palestinian state whose capital is in East Jerusalem and that also encompases the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Arab leaders attending the one-day summit on Wednesday were keen to stress their sustained backing for an independent Palestinian state and strongly criticized the continued construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian occupied territory.

"Israel is continuing to expand settlements and destroy the chances of peace ... There is no peace or stability in the region without a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause through a two-state solution," the summit's host, King Abdullah of Jordan, said on Wednesday.

The gathering came ahead of a meeting at the White House in the coming weeks between US President Donald Trump and the three Arab leaders.

Last month, Trump indicated that he supports a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. However, he has not yet revealed a comprehensive position on the conflict, although he has said he is keen to broker a deal.

Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt attended the Arab League Summit and held talks with Abbas and the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Qatar.

Greenblatt's meetings focused on discussing means to make "tangible progress" toward advancing Middle East peace, the US Embassy in Jordan said in a statement

He reaffirmed "President Trump’s personal interest in achieving a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians and his belief that such a peace agreement is not only possible, but would reverberate positively throughout the region and the world."

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