Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi having already met in Berlin yesterday to discuss the situation in the region, they flew to Paris together today for a meeting in the Munich format with Jean‑Yves Le Drian and Sameh Shoukry. After the meeting, Maas said:
We want to continue to help ensure that there can be durable peace and stability in the Middle East. The group of four nations in the Munich format can be of service to both the partners in the region and the Middle East Quartet.
The four Ministers met in this format four times last year to discuss concrete and confidence-building steps between Israel and Palestinians. In two areas in particular, greater cooperation would be especially useful: in the fight against the COVID‑19 pandemic and in economic and financial issues. Israel and the Palestinians have already resumed cooperation on customs and tax issues. Since the establishment of the Munich format, there have been other developments that point in the right direction: for example, the annexation of parts of the West Bank announced by Israel has been cancelled as part of the agreements on normalising relations between Israel and its Arab partners. In addition, the new US Administration has committed itself to the goal of a negotiated two-state solution. Nonetheless, the path to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians remains difficult; moreover, at the moment both sides are busy preparing for elections.
Use this window for greater trust
In Paris, the four Foreign Ministers also met EU Special Representative Susanna Terstal and the new UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland. They all agreed that the window should be used for confidence-building measures; together they wanted to help bring lasting peace and stability to the region, in the firm belief that a negotiated two-state solution is the best option for Israel’s security and for the Palestinians’ future of self-determination.