Egypt, Germany, France, Jordan Meet to Revive Mideast Talks

CAIRO (AP) -
From left to right, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, takes a photo with his mobile of journalists, during a meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, ahead of a press conference at Tahrir Palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

Egypt on Monday hosted the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Jordan to discuss ways to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, a week before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

In a joint statement, the ministers called for practical steps to launch “credible negotiations” between Israel and the Palestinians on achieving a Palestinian state with east Yerushalayim as its capital.

The ministers said they were ready to work with the U.S. to facilitate negotiations that would lead to “a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the region.”

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry said the establishment of an independent Palestinian state should not threaten Israel’s security.

“The existence of an independent and contiguous Palestinian state alongside a secure state of Israel is the main guarantee for achieving stability in our region,” he told a joint news conference after the ministers’ meeting.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi met with the ministers earlier Monday. The Egyptian leader said last month that Cairo has been working toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “taking into account the regional and international changes.” He was apparently referring to Biden’s election and the establishment of ties with Israel by four Arab countries — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

In the news conference, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged Israel and the Palestinians to initiate and announce their commitment to achieve a solution to the conflict and refrain from taking uniliteral measures.

He said such an announcement would be “a small initiative to build trust between the two parties and start consultations.”

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas tweeted before leaving for Cairo on Sunday that the ministers would discuss “which concrete steps” could help build trust between Israel and the Palestinians.

In September, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for an international conference early in 2021 to launch a “genuine peace process,” based on the U.N. resolutions and past agreements with Israel. The Palestinians no longer see the U.S. as an honest broker.

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said last month that they were ready to cooperate with the incoming Biden administration, and urged Israel to return to talks based on a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.