Two-state so­lu­tion ‘only way’

Is­raelis, Pales­tini­ans urged to talk

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - ANA, MA’AN AND REUTER PARIS, BETH­LE­HEM AND JOHANNESBURG

SOME 70 coun­tries have reaf­firmed that only a twostate so­lu­tion could re­solve the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict. They also warned against any uni­lat­eral steps by ei­ther side that could pre­judge ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The fi­nal com­mu­nique of a one­day in­ter­na­tional Mid­dle East peace con­fer­ence in Paris on Sun­day shied away from ex­plic­itly crit­i­cis­ing plans by US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump to move the US Em­bassy to Jerusalem, but diplo­mats said it sent a “sub­lim­i­nal” mes­sage.

Trump has pledged to pur­sue more pro-Is­raeli poli­cies and to move the US Em­bassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would sup­port Is­rael’s ef­forts to make the city its cap­i­tal de­spite in­ter­na­tional ob­jec­tions.

Coun­tries, in­clud­ing key Euro­pean and Arab states, as well as the per­ma­nent mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil were in Paris for the con­fer­ence, which Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu re­jected as “fu­tile”.

Nei­ther the Is­raelis nor the Pales­tini­ans were rep­re­sented.

The par­tic­i­pants “call on each side… to re­frain from uni­lat­eral steps that pre­judge the out­come of ne­go­ti­a­tions on fi­nal-sta­tus is­sues, in­clud­ing, in­ter alia, on Jerusalem, bor­ders, se­cu­rity and refugees which they will not recog­nise”, the fi­nal com­mu­nique said.

A French diplo­matic source said there had been tough ne­go­ti­a­tions on that para­graph. “It’s a tor­tu­ous and com­pli­cated para­graph to pass a sub­lim­i­nal mes­sage to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion”, the diplo­mat said.

The con­fer­ence, which in­volved more than 40 for­eign ministers and se­nior diplo­mats from 75 coun­tries be­gan in Paris on Sun­day, aimed at re­new­ing ef­forts to re­solve the decades-old Pales­tinian-Is­raeli con­flict through the two-state so­lu­tion, de­spite the fi­nal state­ment is­sued at the end of the day be­ing seen with sat­is­fac­tion by Is­raeli of­fi­cials as a “sig­nif­i­cantly” weak­ened crit­i­cism of Is­raeli poli­cies in the oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory.

The Paris con­fer­ence has been wel­comed by the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity, while the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment has boy­cotted the sum­mit for its ex­clu­sion of Pales­tinian and Is­raeli of­fi­cials.

The Is­raeli prime min­is­ter has also re­ferred to the con­fer­ence as “Pales­tinian de­ceit­ful­ness un­der French aus­pices, aimed at adopt­ing fur­ther anti-Is­raeli po­si­tions”.

How­ever, French Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande as­sured ahead of the con­fer­ence that the aim was not to re­place bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans, a point he con­firmed dur­ing his clos­ing re­marks on Sun­day evening when he said that a so­lu­tion could not be im­posed on ei­ther party.

“With this con­fer­ence I wanted to in­scribe the two-state so­lu­tion on the in­ter­na­tional agenda,” Hol­lande said, adding, in an ap­par­ent al­lu­sion to Ne­tanyahu that “we do not want to im­pose any so­lu­tions… as some ar­gued to dis­miss our ef­forts”.

The con­fer­ence’s fi­nal com­mu­nique reaf­firmed that a ne­go­ti­ated so­lu­tion with two states, Is­rael and Pales­tine, liv­ing side by side in peace and se­cu­rity, was the only way to achieve en­dur­ing peace.

It em­pha­sised the im­por­tance for the par­ties to re­state their com­mit­ment to this so­lu­tion, to take ur­gent steps in or­der to re­v­erse the current neg­a­tive trends on the ground, in­clud­ing con­tin­ued acts of vi­o­lence and on­go­ing set­tle­ment ac­tiv­ity, and to start mean­ing­ful di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions.

It fur­ther re­it­er­ated that a ne­go­ti­ated two-state so­lu­tion should meet the le­git­i­mate as­pi­ra­tions of both sides, in­clud­ing the Pales­tini­ans’ right to state­hood and sovereignty, end the oc­cu­pa­tion that be­gan in 1967 and sat­isfy Is­rael’s se­cu­rity needs.

The sum­mit was held weeks af­ter the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil passed a res­o­lu­tion reaf­firm­ing all Is­raeli set­tle­ments in the oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory were il­le­gal un­der in­ter­na­tional law.

PIC­TURE: AP

For­eign ministers and diplo­mats gather around French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande (front row, fourth from left) at the Paris con­fer­ence which pushed for re­newed peace talks that would lead to a Pales­tinian state.

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