In the first visit by an Egyptian foreign minister to Jerusalem since 2007, Sameh Shoukry urged the resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations towards a two-state solution.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem Sunday, the Israeli leader reiterated his policy that direct negotiations, rather than unilateral moves, are the only way to achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
“Today I call again on the Palestinians to follow the greatest example of Egypt and Jordan and join us for direct negotiations,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated. “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.”
After decades of wars followed by years of an uneasy peace, Israel has emerged as a discreet ally with Egypt in the struggle against Islamic terrorists operating in the Sinai desert and Gaza Strip.
In a warm welcome to the Egyptian diplomat, Netanyahu referred to the historic Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty that was ratified 37 years ago. “The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and between Israel and Jordan are the cornerstone of stability in the region, and are critical assets for our countries,” he said. “They are also the cornerstones of a broader regional peace and a broader stability that we hope to achieve. To this end I welcome [Egyptian] President [Abdel Fattah] el-Sissi’s recent offer of Egyptian leadership in efforts to advance peace with the Palestinians and a broader peace in our region.”
Shoukry visited Ramallah in June to deliver a similar message to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. “Today I am in Israel to continue this dialogue,” he said at the press conference in Jerusalem.
“Egypt remains ready to contribute towards achieving this goal. We greatly value the trust of both sides and the international community in our commitment to peace, stability and justice…
“The goal that we aim to achieve through negotiations between the two parties is one that is based on justice, legitimate rights and mutual willingness to coexist peacefully in two neighboring independent states in peace and security,” Shoukry declared.
“The situation of the Middle East is becoming ever more volatile and dangerous, particularly as the phenomena of terrorism continues to grow and proliferate, representing an existential threat to the peoples of the region and the world at large,” he continued. “No person, group or people are exempt; none are immune from this threat. Armed conflicts and disputes have also spread throughout the region, resulting in alarming humanitarian suffering and threatens the stability of the Middle East.”
According to Shoukry, “it is no longer acceptable to claim that the status quo is the most that we can achieve of the hopes and the aspirations of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. The current state of affairs, unfortunately, is neither stable nor sustainable. It does not conform with the hopes of both peoples, nor with those of the peoples of the region and the world.”
“The vision of the two-state solution is not far-fetched,” he said. ” A multitude of ideas and initiative have been proposed to make it a practical reality – particularly the Arab peace initiative. However, achieving this vision requires serious steps to build confidence as well as a genuine will that does not waver of wane under any circumstance.”