New momentum: fresh impetus for the Middle East peace process
Something has been set in motion in the Middle East during the last few months: the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, the Sudan and Morocco have normalised their relations with Israel. Furthermore, Israel has put the annexation of parts of the West Bank, planned for the summer, on ice. Germany has expressly welcomed these developments.
Together with Egypt, Jordan and France, the German Government is working within the Munich format to use this positive momentum to bring about progress in the deadlocked conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. In Cairo, the Foreign Ministers are discussing which very practical small steps both sides can make to strengthen confidence and thus make the resumption of direct talks possible in the long run, and how the four countries can support that. To this end, they will also meet Egyptian President al-Sisi.
New US Administration: Revival of established formats
The four Foreign Ministers also want to talk about what impact the new US Administration could have on the Middle East peace process. Established mediation formats such as the Middle East Quartet recently played no role during the Trump Administration. Germany and its partners are hoping that once President-elect Biden takes up office, the United States will once again act as an honest broker between the parties to the conflict, and want to support this course of action.
European-Arab interface: Munich format
Foreign Minister Maas first spoke about the Middle East peace process with his French, Jordanian and Egyptian counterparts in the Munich format on the margins of the Munich Security Conference. With this format, the four countries want to provide new impetus for the Middle East peace process and act as an interface between the parties to the conflict, as well as liaise with international formats and institutions.
Ahead of his departure for Cairo, Foreign Minister Maas stated:
We have seen in the last few months that there can also be good news in the Middle East. The normalisation processes between Israel and, at the last count, four Arab states in the region show that. The resulting momentum must now be maintained and used to advance the Middle East peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. We know that the positive developments of the last few months will inevitably come to a halt if both sides do not put any concrete offers on the table. That could result in a continued standstill and instability.