French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has urged Israel and Palestine to return to the negotiating table quickly, warning that the stalemate in the peace process risked setting the conflict “ablaze”.
US-led efforts to broker a so-called two-state solution collapsed in April 2014 and leaders on both sides have since been weakened politically. But with the region’s crises worsening and Washington reassessing its options on relations with Israel, France sees a narrow window to resume negotiations.
“We have to do the maximum so that the two sides restart negotiations,” Fabius told reporters after meeting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. “We think that by doing nothing there will be the twin risk of stalemate and setting [the conflict] ablaze.”
Fabius was on a two-day trip to the Middle East to promote a French-led initiative that would see the peace process relaunched through an international support group comprising Arab states, the European Union and UN Security Council members.
These states would then work to pressure both sides to make compromises that neither wants to make alone.
Talks would be rubber-stamped by a UN Security Council resolution setting the negotiating parameters and establishing a time period, possibly 18 months, to complete talks.
“It’s been 40 years … we need to adapt the method so that the Arabs, the Europeans, the Americans can accompany things,” Fabius said.
After meeting key Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo, Fabius said they had agreed to press ahead with the initiative and work towards creating the international contact group.
“If there is an agreement … then this could manifest itself in September,” he said.
Fabius was due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday.