countries, the Arab League, European Union and United Nations discussed ways in which the international community could “help advance the prospects for peace, including by providing meaningful incentives to the parties to make peace,” according to a joint statement.
The meeting aims to lay the ground for a fully-fledged peace conference to be held by the end of the year, but few believe that genuine progress will be made.
Despite a sense of scepticism that the French peace initiative will succeed where so many others have failed, Ayrault said the world could not “fold its arms and do nothing.”
He said the mobilisation of the international community showed that despite numerous conflicts and the terrorism threat, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remained “at the heart of our concerns”.
“Everyone knows the risks of this impasse, there have been three wars in six years in Gaza and there is currently daily violence. It is essential that we take action urgently,” said Ayrault.
“We have chosen to extend a hand to the Israelis and the Palestinians. We hope that they accept it”.
While the Palestinian side is backing the French peace effort, Israel is fiercely opposed to it and has loudly predicted it will fail.
The participants at the meeting discussed ways to build trust between the warring parties, as well as a framework for eventual direct talks and different economic initiatives that could spur them to action.
The statement released by all those attending also re-affirmed support for the two-state solution. “The participants... are alarmed that actions on the ground, in particular continued acts of violence and ongoing settlement activity, are dangerously imperilling the prospects for a two-state solution,” read the communique.—AFP