June 21. 2024. 3:42

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EU and Arab ministers to discuss Gaza war, future two-state solution

EU foreign ministers will meet with their six counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, and the UAE in Brussels on Monday (27 May) for the second time in a month to discuss efforts to end Israel’s war on Gaza.

“[The talks] happen at a crucial moment in the war, when the situation in Gaza is ever more disastrous, international pressure to end the fighting reached a new high,” Sven Koopmans, EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, told Euractiv.

International efforts to agree on plans for Gaza after the war, including multiple rounds of Egypt-mediated ceasefire talks and peace plans involving questions of who would govern, have so far stalled.

In addition to US and Arab peace plans, the EU recently pitched a plan to revive efforts toward a Middle East peace process.

“We need to prepare for a post-ceasefire situation and for credible steps to implement the two-state solution,” Koopmans said, adding the talks would “demonstrate the significance of Arab-European cooperation”.

“It is vital that we come together to increase our cooperation for peace and massively increased humanitarian aid flow; we need to work together on supporting the Palestinian Authority and on our messages to Israel and Hamas,” Koopmans said.

Israel, which, according to EU officials, was invited, did not respond to the invitation.

The EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell earlier on Sunday said, “The two-state solution is not a painful concession that Israel is doing; it is not a security threat to Israel.”

“On the contrary, it is the only long-term guarantee for the security and prosperity of Israel,” he said.

“I know that the current Israeli government is not convinced of that, and we have to work in order to make this idea go through to the public opinion, in order to push for the only solution that we can imagine, in order to bring peace and security to the two people who are fighting for the same land,” he added.

Palestinian structures

Sunday’s International Partners’ Meeting on Palestine, a one-off event held in Brussels that replaced the bi-annual Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in the absence of Israel.

The Brussels meeting hosted by Borrell and chaired by Norway brought together representatives of major donors, Arab countries, the United Nations, IMF, Australia, Britain, Canada, and Japan.

The talks came after two EU members, Ireland and Spain, as well as Norway, announced last week they will recognise the State of Palestine from Tuesday, with Israel threatening to withdraw its envoys to those countries.

Borrell told reporters before meeting Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa at the talks on Sunday that “a functional Palestinian Authority is in Israel’s interest too because in order to make peace, we need a strong Palestinian Authority, not a weaker one.”

He also criticised “unprecedented Israeli settlements expansions and land grabbing”.

EU should not aim to be ‘neutral actor’ in Middle East peace process, bloc’s envoy says

A future Israel-Palestine peace deal can only come as part of concerted international efforts, which is why the EU should not aim to act as a ‘neutral actor’, the bloc’s Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Sven Koopmans told Euractiv.

Mustafa, speaking to reporters alongside Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares in Brussels on the sidelines of the event said, “We obviously are grateful and very pleased to have three European countries to join 143 other countries in this recognition, but we obviously want to have every country in Europe do the same.”

Mustafa stressed that recognition was vital to keeping the Middle East peace process alive.

He also laid out to international partners three key priorities of the PA relating to supporting the people of Gaza; restoring basic needs and services, building state institutions, and stabilising the financial situation.

EU mission role in Gaza

Beyond meeting Arab counterparts, EU foreign ministers are also likely to discuss what further role the bloc can play in Gaza.

According to several EU diplomats, the United States has suggested to Brussels that it reactivate its European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) Rafah, to monitor the humanitarian aid crossing point from Egypt.

The EU mission has been dormant since 2007, when the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas seized full control of Gaza, making it impossible to operate in the area.

“We are in a very preliminary part of the story,” an EU senior official said, adding that there are talks ongoing with stakeholders on the ground “to see how it could be done.

”EU foreign ministers on Monday are expected to potentially come up with “some kind of operative conclusions that could allow the mission to deploy”, the official added, but cautioned this could not happen under “war circumstances”.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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