The leaders of Egypt and Jordan – President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah –met on Tuesday (21 February) in Cairo to discuss the coordination of their positions on the Middle East peace process, reaffirming their continued support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their meeting came shortly after the new American President Donald Trump suggested last week at a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would be open to new ways to achieve peace. Donald Trump suggested that he would be happy with any solution including one that would not necessarily entail the creation of a Palestinian state.
Most Arab countries support a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders prior to the Six Day War. Mr. Netenyahu, however, said that the 1967 lines are indefensible and many Israeli politicians believe that the solution entailing two states for two peoples is a huge risk for Israel’s security. The biggest obstacle to the two-state solution is Israel’s construction of the settlements in the West Bank, which are illegal under international law. Although President Trump was initially favorable to the construction, he later said that the settlements “don’t help the process“.
The European Union has for long been supporting a two-state solution with an independent, democratic, viable and contiguous Palestinian state. The EU wants to work with its partners to re-launch peace negotiations, taking into consideration a just and realistic solution to the refugee question, fulfillment of the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem, an agreement on the borders based on the 1967 lines including land swaps as may be agreed by both parties as well as security arrangements satisfactory for both sides.
However, according to the EU, the Israel-Palestinian peace process is at a critical juncture. The members of the EU Parliament’s Palestine delegation, which visited Jerusalem and the West Bank earlier this week, stressed that the EU and its Member States should recognize Palestinian statehood. The delegation led by Neoklis Sylikiotis described Israel’s recent decision to build 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and to retroactively legalize thousands of illegal settlements as “a new violation of the rights of Palestinians to self-determination”.