Palestinian issue will remain the central cause for the Arab world, Egypt FM says

Mohamed Soliman , Menna Alaa El-Din , Monday 8 Feb 2021

Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital has never slipped through the cracks

(From left) Arb League (AL) Secretary-General Ahmed Abu El-Gheit sits next to Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi during a joint briefing following an emergency meeting held by the AL at the ministerial level in Cairo on Monday, 8 February 2021. (Photo courtesy of the Egyptian foreign affairs ministry)

The establishment of an “independent and sovereign” Palestinian state will remain the Arab world’s “central and fair” cause, despite other challenges facing the region, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Monday following an emergency meeting held by the Arab League (AL) in Cairo.

In a joint press conference with AL’s secretary-general and the foreign ministers of Jordan and Palestine, Shoukry said that Egypt “will continue to be among the top backers of the Palestinian cause.”

He said that the emergency meeting, which was called upon by Cairo to bolster Arab solidarity amid developments in the region, adopted a resolution that would further support solidarity between Arab counterparts and joint action.

The resolution also “affirms the legitimate rights of Palestinians and the establishment of an independent state,” Shoukry said.

The minister said a closed session was also held on challenges facing the region and means to face them, describing the dialogue between the Arab foreign ministers as one which saw “transparency and honesty.”

He added that the ministers have agreed to hold more talks apart from formal proceedings to bolster consultations.

AL Secretary-General Ahmed Abu El-Gheit said Monday’s meeting “restored a full consensus over the Palestinian cause with the blessing of Palestine.”

The meeting also tackled means to restore Arabs’ roles amid the challenges in the region, water security, and the crisis in Libya and Yemen, he added.

He said the ministers agreed on a non-formal consultative meeting every three months to discuss “pressing Arab crises.”

The joint press conference came after Shoukry delivered Egypt’s speech in front of the AL, saying that stability in the region will be achieved only if a permanent and comprehensive peace based on a just settlement, fulfilling the aspirations of the Palestinian people, is reached.

He said the meeting was being held amid “exceptional and unprecedented circumstances in the Arab world.”

He also said that the presence of ministers and heads of delegations of Arab countries reaffirms that the Palestinian issue “will remain our central cause [as] states and peoples.”

The Egyptian Minister added that the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital has never slipped through the cracks.

“The Palestinian issue was and will remain at the heart of the Arab conscience, no matter how the [peace] negotiation process becomes marred by stagnation and disruption, as well as the unilateral Israeli practices and settlement projects in the West Bank,” he added.

“This issue has experienced exceedingly difficult circumstances over the past years, but issues that are just do not die, and remain legitimate as long as they remain unresolved, and as long as the international community has not yet done its duty towards it,” he noted.

Shoukry assured that Egypt is also keen to continue the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to provide Palestinian refugees with “decent services amid complicated political and humanitarian conditions.”

Shoukry said that in the past decade, the Arab world has suffered many challenges, including the ideological and political fissures, and the terrorist groups that, he said, took advantage of the political and security vacuum in some countries.

He also highlighted the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic that clobbered Arab countries, saying “it added more burdens and challenges to the Arab world’s economies and societies.”

The meeting, held under the chairmanship of Egypt, comes two days after the International Criminal Court ruled that it has jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

The decision lays the groundwork for opening a criminal investigation into violations and war crimes by Israel in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

Egypt has spared no effort to support all attempts that aim to resolve the stalemate that has dominated the peace process for years, as well as ending the fractures between Palestinian factions, Shoukry stressed.

Cairo has been in talks with several Western parties to push forward the frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In February 2020, Egypt, along with Jordan, France, and Germany, formed the quartet committee, with the aim of reviving the halted negotiations.

The committee has so far held four meetings, the latest of which was hosted by Cairo earlier this month, where the foreign ministers of the four countries forged 11 provisions detailed in a joint statement outlining the endeavours to revive the peace process.

At the same time, Egypt is currently hosting a two-day talk dubbed ‘the National Palestinian Dialogue’, which brings together various Palestinian factions with the aim of ending inter-Palestinian differences and guarantee the success of the upcoming elections scheduled for this year.

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