NEW YORK: Arab and EU officials reiterated that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the only viable path to peace, as they launched a series of working groups to inject “new energy” into the peace process.
Announcing the “Peace Day for the Middle East” initiative at a press conference attended by Arab News on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy said those who attended the meeting are concerned as the situation on the ground has “deteriorated.”
Josep Borrell added: “We had a very long meeting with foreign ministers from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the secretary-general of the Arab League.”
He said: “It has been a long meeting, but we’ve left it happy and satisfied, and it was a very good meeting.
“One month from now in Brussels, we’ll launch three senior-level working groups looking at bilateral, lateral and regional approaches to finding a solution.”
The high-level meeting was convened by Saudi Arabia, the Arab League, Egypt, Jordan and the EU — and attended by close to 50 foreign ministers — as they urged “the world to join.”
Building on the Arab Peace Initiative, predicated on full withdrawal from all Arab territories occupied since 1967 in exchange for full normalization, the “Peace Day for the Middle East” will combine the API with the EU’s 2023 offer to provide an “unprecedented package of political, security and economic support” to both parties.
But the group stressed that they would not provide additional details beyond internationally agreed parameters, considering these matters to be negotiated between the two parties.
The three working groups will focus on developing an outline of potential post-peace regional, political and security cooperation mechanisms; developing proposals for economic cooperation, including in the areas of trade, investment, innovation, transport infrastructure, natural resources, climate change and the environment; and developing proposals for cooperation in humanitarian, intercultural and human security issues.
Efforts made by the working groups will be assessed every three months as they look to build the “Peace Supporting Package,” with hopes this can be ready to present to the parties by September next year.
With the Oslo Accords now 30 years old, Borrell acknowledged that the situation had not seen any improvement in the intervening years, with the number of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories only having increased since, and neither side showing readiness for a new round of negotiations.
In the absence of willingness from Israelis or Palestinians to engage, he said it is now important for a global coalition to show commitment to ending the conflict.
“The result of this meeting is the strong commitment of many people towards the two-state solution, because if everyone who said they supported the two-state solution was properly engaged, we would have that two-state solution already,” Borrell added.
“There isn’t another viable solution. There’s no alternative to it, so we’ll continue working towards it. I can’t say everything has been solved, but it’s a good starting point.”