Egypt FM Arrives, Places Cairo – not France – at Center of Mideast Diplomatic Efforts

Jerusalem, 06 Syawal 1437/11 July 2016 (MINA) – Egypt places itself firmly in the middle of the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians on Sunday, when Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrived in Jerusalem and said before meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Egyptian leadership is “serious” in its determination to “provide all possible forms of support” toward reaching the goal of a two-state solution.

“My visit to Israel comes today at a crucial and challenging juncture for the Middle East,” he said, adding that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has “raged on for more than half a century claiming thousands of victims, and crushing the hopes and aspirations of millions of Palestinians to establish their independent state based on the 1967 border, with east Jerusalem of its capital; as well as the aspirations of Israelis to live in peace in security and stability.”

Shoukry was met warmly by Netanyahu at the entrance to his office, and then delivered a brief statement at a podium set up in front of a bank of Israeli and Egyptian flags. This was the first visit to Israel of an Egyptian foreign minister in nine years, reported.

Shoukry, speaking in English, said that the situation in the Middle East is becoming more “volatile and dangerous,” and said that the threat of terrorism continues to grow and plagues everyone. “No person, group or people are exempt,” he said.

The Egyptian foreign minister said his visit was a “continuation of Egypt’s long-standing sense of responsibility toward peace for itself, and for all the peoples of the region, “particularly the Palestinians and Israelis who have suffered for generations due to the conflict between them.”

He said his visit comes, as did a visit two weeks ago to Ramallah, within the context of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s call in May for a comprehensive agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Such a monumental achievement will have a far reaching and dramatic and positive impact on the overall situation in the mideast regional,” he said Shoukry said that the goal is to achieve a two-state solution through negotiations between the parties that will reach an agreement based on “justice, legitimate rights and a mutual willingness to coexist peacefully in two independent sets, in peace and security.”

Since the breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in April 2014, he said, the situation has been constantly deteriorating on all level: humanitarian, economic and security.

“The plight of the Palestinian people becomes more arduous every day, and the dream of peace and security moves further out of the Israeli people’s reach as long as the conflict continues. It is no longer acceptable to claim that the status quo is the most that can be achieved for the hopes and aspiration of the Palestinian and Israeli people,” he stated.

Netanyahu greeted his guest by saying that the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty 37 years, ago, and then the Jordanian-Israeli accord. have been the cornerstones of stability in the region and “are critical assets for our countries.”

He once again called on the Palestinians to enter direct negotiations, saying that that they should follow the “courageous example of Egypt and Jordan.”

“This is the only way we can address all the outstanding problems between us ,and turn the vision of peace based on two states for two peoples into a reality,” he said.

The two men are expected to meet for a second time later in the evening, apparently to allow each side to think over the various ideas raised in the first meeting, and to consult with others. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)