PLO chairperson Saeb Erekat (L), Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry (C), and Jordanian FM Ayman al-Safadi (R) in Amman-based meeting - press photo
CAIRO- 14 May 2017: Achieving peace between Palestinians and Israelis is a key Arab strategic choice and the two-state solution should include the establishment of a Palestinian state on 1967 borders, stated Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) in a communiqué on Sunday.
The three countries supported the Saudi-brokered Initiative of the Arab Peace, added the communiqué’s statement which has been released after a tripartite meeting in Amman on Sunday. The initiative calls for establishing the Palestinian state on the June 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as capital, full Israeli withdrawal from Golan Heights, the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland, in exchange for conducting an Arab comprehensive peace with Israel.
The tripartite representatives were Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, his Jordanian counterpart Ayman al-Safadi, and PLO chairperson Saeb Erekat. It aimed to enhance the Arab efforts to revitalize the stagnant peace processes between Palestinians and Israelis.
The two-state solution is the only path to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, according to the joint statement of the three officials. The three officials also advocated the implementation of recommendations of the latest Arab Summit that took place in Jordan last March.
“The two-state solution that acknowledges a Palestinian State based on the borders guidelines of June 1967 and that designates its capital as East Jerusalem is the only path to achieve long-lasting peace,” the statement reads.
Talks broached the subject of the outcomes of Arab leaders’ meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump that have been going on over the past few months. The three parties expressed appreciation for the US president’s commitment to alleviate the conflict and to find alternative ways to achieve peace in the region.
On the sidelines of the meeting, the three officials discussed the issue of a prolonged hunger strike carried out by Palestinian prisoners in an Israeli prison. The three officials collectively called on Israel to make concessions to the prisoners’ demands and to act diplomatically according to on the Geneva accords.
The parties agreed to hold the next meeting in Cairo where they will carry on their negotiations with other Arab countries to end political blockages that might stall peace processes.
The Egyptian presidency’s spokesperson, Alaa Youssef, announced on Saturday that President Abdel Fatah Sisi had received an invitation from King Salman bin Abdulaziz to attend the Arab Islamic American summit that will take place in Riyadh on May 21, 2017.
Trump will meet with leaders of Arab, Gulf and Islamic countries in Riyadh, including President Sisi, before heading to Jerusalem where he is set to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Israeli counterpart Netanyahu.
Trump’s visit to the region aims at formulating a comprehensive U.S. solution to the Palestinian cause, Dr. Ayman Raqib, leading member of Fatah Movement told Egypt Today.
Raqib claimed the Palestinians had given up on many conditions that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had kept demanding before resuming the negotiations with the occupiers such as ceasing to build new settlements, and the release of the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners. The 29 prisoners were expected to be freed in April 2014, but the negotiations were halted.
“Paris peace conferences failed; however the PA welcomed Russian President Putin’s initiative to host a summit between Abu Mazen and Netanyahu. Ironically, Abu Mazen agreed, while Netanyahu refused,” Raqib said. The 2017 Paris Conferences have called for the end of the Israeli occupation and establishment of the Palestine State on 1967 borders as per the international legitimacy and the international law.
He added that although Abu Mazen had been disappointed when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, Abu Mazen readily agreed to meet with Trump earlier this month. One of the significant outcomes of that meeting is the resuming of peace talks; the indicator of which is Abu Mazen’s expected meeting with Netanyahu during Trump’s upcoming visit.
On the other hand, the Israeli media has recently discussed a proposal made by Israel's Transportation Minister, Yisrael Katz, of creating an artificial island off the coast of Gaza which would contain a port, a power plant, and an airport.
While Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman both rejected the idea, several U.S. officials viewed it as creative and innovative. Reports suggest that this proposal might be highly topical during Trump’s visit to Israel a few days later.
Raqib believed that the Israeli occupier has been seeking to isolate the West Bank from Gaza and as a result Katz’s proposal is moving in the same strategic vein. He pointed out that Israel’s goal is to restrict the Palestinians within the borders of Gaza and to exclude establishment of a Palestinian representation in the West Bank.
“The main goal, in my opinion, behind that proposal is to put an end to the Palestinian national project. Israel’s interests in the West Bank are mercenary in nature,” Raqib claimed.