Speaking on the fringes of the Middle East peace conference in Paris, Foreign Minister Steinmeier issued the following statement today (15 January):
Over the past few years we have undertaken huge efforts to reach lasting peace between Israel and Palestine. We have not been successful. Many of these efforts have failed, but the conference in Paris comes at exactly the right time nevertheless. I am grateful to my French colleague, Jean‑Marc Ayrault, for hosting this Middle East peace conference.
2017 will be a decisive year for the Middle East peace process. If I read the signs correctly, there are some thoughts of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem. If such thoughts in themselves are enough to make the Palestinian side threaten measures and responses, then one can sense right at the start of the year that we may possibly be facing the risk of renewed escalation.
That must be avoided, and this conference can at least contribute to that by giving all those interested in lasting peace in the Middle East another chance to say that the two‑state 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. For that to happen there can be no room for anything which endangers this process for the future.
That is why a Security Council resolution points out that acts of violence do not make it easier to return to the negotiating table, and nor of course do settlement activities. And so I hope that with the large number of states represented here today – almost 70 – we will arrive at a common viewpoint and a joint declaration.
I hope that the French initiative, for which I am very grateful, will once again get the international community behind the two‑state solution.