CAIRO – 8 February 2021: Although new players have been into the scene after signing normalization agreements with Israel, Palestine still views Egypt role in mediating in the peace talks as vital and inseparable from the Palestinian cause.
Cairo today has hosted an emergency face-to-face meeting for the Arab League at the level of foreign ministers to discuss efforts to back the Palestinian cause in light of the recent developments.
The developments include the Israeli normalization of relations with UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan, a step that Egypt has welcomed.
It also includes a ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to have a jurisdiction in the Palestinian territories, paving the way for probes into possible war crimes.
Egypt, as the current chair of the Arab League, is still leading the Arab efforts to support the Palestinian side and work on ending the stalemate in the Middle East peace process by bringing Israel and Palestine to the negotiations table.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, has held many meetings to discuss efforts to back the peace process.
In remarks to France 24, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh affirmed the need to include regional players, including Egypt, in the mediation process.
Last year, Ambassador of the State of Palestine in Cairo and its Permanent Representative to the Arab League, Diab Al-Louh, said the Palestinian stance toward peace process in the Middle East is inseparable from the Egyptian stance, Egyptian state’s news agency MENA reported.
Palestine cares at the first place for Egypt’s stance on the Palestinian cause, Al-Louh said, addressing a symposium organized by the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs.
“Because we do not need from the Arab brothers or from any other country in the Arab World except [a stance] that is similar to the Egyptian stance,” Louh said, thanking Egypt for the unlimited support.
Egypt and the Arab countries, including the quartet that normalized ties with Israel, however, stick to the two-state solution, which stipulates the necessity of establishing an independent Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital.
The US under former President Donald Trump violated the will of the Arab world and most of the countries and decided in 2017 that the US would move its embassy to Jerusalem, a step that recognizes the city as the capital of Israel.
Despite the warm Egypt-US relations, Egypt expressed its denouncement of the US decision, saying that such a unilateral act is a violation of the international legislation resolutions.
Egypt added that this would not change the legal posture of Jerusalem, which is already under occupation.
The 193-member UN General Assembly agreed to hold a rare emergency special session, at the request of Arab and Muslim countries, to vote on the draft.
US Ambassador to the UN at the time Nikki Haley tweeted: "there will be a vote criticizing our choice. The US will be taking names."
Egypt, despite that, proposed a draft resolution calling for the US to withdraw its decision. The resolution was backed by all 14 other Security Council members in the vote.
Palestinian Jordanian anchorman Jamal Rayan lauded Egypt’s efforts on Twitter; he wrote: “Jerusalem is not for sale; this is what Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian authority said, despite US aid received and peace agreements signed with Israel.”
Also, Egypt’s Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary-general of the Arab League said the US administration’s decision will undermine its major role in the mediation process between Palestinians and Israelis.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in November 2019 that his country would no longer abide by 1978 State Department opinion, which call the Israeli settlements in West Bank against international law. The step was condemned by the UK and Arab countries.
Aboul Gheit categorically rejected the US changed stance on the Israeli settlements considering it no more illegal, adding that it ends the US mediating role in the cause.
In his speech at the extraordinary session of the Arab League, Aboul Gheit said that the US recent announcement was a very negative development and a regrettable shift in the US position.
"The US administration had made great promises to achieve peace," Aboul Ghaiet said, adding that it has only worked to achieve the Israeli goals.
Aboul Gheit said that the US announcement concerning settlements represents an end to its role as a mediator in the Palestinian cause, after it had taken over such role for four decades.
This declaration does not change the status of the settlements as illegal entities, Aboul Gheit said, stressing that international law is formulated by the international community as a whole, not a single state.
He affirmed that the Israeli "occupation" would remain condemned by the whole world, despite any declaration, and that the Israeli settlements would remain legally void, and shameful for those who practice or acknowledge it.
Aboul Gheit said that the declaration would have a negative impact on any horizon to achieve peace in the future, stressing that the recognition of the settlements implies a recognition of the Israeli occupation as a whole.
"So, what are Palestinians negotiating with the Israelis if there is no occupied land or settlers usurping the territory?"
Aboul Gheit affirmed that the consequences of the US declaration go beyond its role in the Middle East or in the peace process, as it has undermined a principle stipulated by international humanitarian law, which prohibits occupiers from transferring its population to the territories which they occupy.
"Ignoring this firm principle strikes the remaining moral legitimacy of the United States in this issue. It also undermines its credibility as a global power that is supposed to respect the law and work to implement it."