Representatives from over 70 countries reaffirmed their support for the two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine at a conference on the Middle East peace process held in Paris on Sunday (15 January). They also called on the parties to the conflict to resume direct negotiations.
Steinmeier: “Risk of renewed escalation”
“2017 will be a decisive year for the Middle East peace process”, said Foreign Minister Steinmeier at the conference in Paris. He added that there was a sense right at the start of this year that Israel and Palestine possibly faced the “risk of renewed escalation”. He said that the mere fact that the US had considered the possibility of moving its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem had increased tensions between the parties to the conflict.
Renewed commitment to the two-state solution
The French initiative for the conference had therefore come at the right time, the Foreign Minister said. Many of the efforts of the past years had failed and the Middle East peace process had stagnated since 2014, he continued. Nevertheless, he said, the conference had achieved at least one thing, which was for the international community to once again get behind the two-state solution and give expression to the fact that this solution is the only way to “create peaceful conditions and to ensure that an Israeli and a Palestinian state can live side by side in the region in peace”.
Steinmeier emphasised that there could be no room for anything that endangered this process – neither acts of violence nor settlement activity would make it easier to return to the negotiating table.
Joint declaration: resuming negotiations
In a joint declaration, the countries in attendance called on the parties to the conflict to restate their commitment to the two-state solution and to resume direct negotiations.
The positive impacts that a peace agreement could have, especially in the area of political and economic cooperation, were also emphasised. It was agreed that this could, for example, help to intensify the economic partnership with the EU. At the same time, Palestine would receive support for its efforts to build up institutional structures. A further conclusion reached was that the civil societies of both countries should be strengthened in order to improve the dialogue between both sides also at this level.