The Follow-up Committee of the Arab Peace Initiative met in Paris on Sunday to discuss the continued efforts to reach peace agreement with Israel, not only with Palestine but Arab and Islamic states around the world.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy attended the ministerial meeting in the French capital and stressed Egypt’s position that the core issues of the dispute must be negotiated. A ministry statement pointed out that these issues “had already been highlighted during the recent ministerial meeting of the Arab League Council” in December. The Arab League held Israel responsible for hindering the peace process “by continuing to kill Palestinians in cold blood and for its persistence on settlement schemes and demolition of houses and villages, the continuous violations on Al-Aqsa Mosque and the intensification of the siege on the Gaza Strip.”
The ongoing final-status negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians revolve around four major issues; Jerusalem, borders, security and refugees.
The meeting in Paris was also attended by United States Secretary of State John Kerry and representatives from several Arab countries, including Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Attiyah. Following the meeting, Kerry said: “The Arab Peace Initiative holds out the possibility of normalising relations with Israel and strengthening security for all of the countries throughout the region.”
Kerry described the current situation as a “critical point” adding: “It’s very hard to overstate the importance of … all the countries that are taking part in this effort – in order to bring the Arab world to the table saying a simple thing: we are prepared to make peace now in 2014.”
Israelis and Palestinians resumed direct final status negotiations after reaching an agreement in July. The last attempt at negotiations in 2010 fell apart after the Israeli side refused to maintain a freeze on settlement building.
Earlier in January the Israeli government approved new plans to build 272 homes in the West Bank, according to AFP.
During his time in Paris Fahmy also attended a meeting of the core group of the Friends of Syria, known as the ‘London 11’ ahead of the Geneva II peace conference scheduled to take place on 22 January.
Famy also met with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to discuss matters of regional importance including the conflict in Syria and the Middle East peace process.