Arab League Chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit and High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Affairs officials met with their European counterparts to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli issue, seeking European Union assistance amid rising fears of bias highlighting the upcoming United States peace roadmap.
The meetings came in an effort to face Washington’s recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel—based on which it will be relocating its embassy next May.
EU foreign ministers' meeting with the Arab ministerial committee to follow up the Jerusalem issue in Brussels on Monday stressed the need to save the two-state solution.
This comes a month after a meeting between the Palestinian Authority and European ministers and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calling for an international conference mid-year and a multilateral mechanism to be found to break away from the American monopoly over Palestinian-Israeli mediation efforts.
However, the importance of the recent Brussels meeting is that it conveyed a strong message to the European side to action before the US administration announces its plan for peace in the Middle East—citing that leaked information clearly is rooted in what cannot be accepted by the Palestinian side.
Therefore, the Arab delegation stressed the need for “immediate action” with the American side on the grounds that if Washington commits to its plan, it will be difficult for them to later reverse or modify some of its items.
Nevertheless, the Arab League ministers hastened to say that "they do not want to exclude the American role, which remains essential, but balance it at a party level overseeing the peace process, namely the Arab peace initiative.
Abbas spoke to the Arab ministers last month asking them to recognize the Palestinian state quickly. However, US-Western pressure weighs in heavily against the recognition with Europeans arguing it’s not time yet.
Their shy support comes at a time when the European Union exploits every opportunity to show its distancing and rejection of US positions—such as the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the embassy transfer.
But one of the Arab-Palestinian goals is for Europe to remain “a united bloc that refuses to follow Washington's initiatives” which is deemed wrong.
The other European argument inhibiting the recognition of a Palestinian state is that Washington must unveil its plan clearly before taking any further actions.
Moreover, Europeans still hold on to the US role in the peace process. According to a European diplomatic source, the EU “does not see that they are capable of replacing Washington, given its close connection to Tel Aviv, and therefore their role is reduced”.
The EU believes that Washington is really able to pressure the Israeli leadership to soften their positions and accept needed determinants for a solution.
On that note, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said that Washington’s plan was “almost ready” and that it included compromises for both sides.
However, diplomatic sources in Paris have revealed that the most “troubled party” in the upcoming Washington plan will certainly be the Palestinian side.