New effort for Middle East peace process

(VOVworld) – The Middle East peace process has been at a standstill since the US’ peace initiative failed in April, 2014. Israel has continued its military activities and illegal construction of settlements and walls in the West Bank, and tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip. All these activities have had a devastating effect on Palestinian lives. Diplomatic efforts have resumed prior to a peace conference scheduled to take place in Paris on June 3.

New effort for Middle East peace process - ảnh 1
Israeli forces patrol near the border with Gaza, where violence escalated in May © AFP

The Paris conference to relaunch peace talks will include representatives from the US, Russia, the EU, and the UN, the Arab League, and the foreign ministers of 20 countries. It will not include Israeli or Palestinian representatives. The conference will seek a joint commitment as a foundation for Israel and Palestine to return to the negotiating table. If this conference succeeds, a summit meeting of world leaders, including Israel and Palestine, will be convened later this year.  The Paris conference on June 3 will be based on the Arab League’s 2002 peace plan, which was rejected by Israel.

France proposed the conference to seek a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has visited Jerusalem to discuss the  idea with the Prime Ministers of Israel and Palestine. On May 23 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the French initiative. But he said he would meet Palestinian Prime Minister Mamoud Abbas at the Élysée Palace, or anywhere else chosen by France. He said every difficult issue will be on the table: mutual recognition, borders, refugees, and settlements. "Peace just does not get achieved through international conferences," Netanyahu said, stressing the importance of "direct negotiations". Palestine welcomed the French initiative on May 24.

Several countries have expressed support for the French initiative. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Palestinians and Israelis have the right to live in peace and security. A two-state solution is the only way to meet both sides’ legitimate demands and finally end the conflict. She said Israel’s settlement activities are counterproductive and create an obstacle to a two-state solution. She called on Palestine and Israel to make an effort to create conditions for resuming the Middle East peace process. Of the French initiative, Merkel said that every opportunity to make progress must be used.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has come to Cairo to meet with Egyptian Prime Minister Adbel Fattah al-Sisi. The US says the only way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is through negotiation towards a two-state solution with an acknowledged border. Japan has committed to provide 6 billion USD for Middle East peace efforts in the next 3 years.

To achieve regional peace will require goodwill and concrete actions by Palestine, Israel, and the international community.

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