JEDDAH: In a strong message to Israel and the incoming US administration of Donald Trump, dozens of countries are expected this weekend to reiterate their opposition to Israeli settlements and call for the establishment of a Palestinian state as “the only way” to ensure peace in the region.
France is hosting more than 70 countries on Sunday at a Middle East Summit, in what will be a final chance for the administration of US President Barack Obama to lay out its positions for the region.
Husam Zomlot, adviser for strategic affairs to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, said: “We seek at the Paris peace talks to make the world shoulder its responsibility toward the Palestinian people and its cause.”
He added that the world has two choices: Persuade Israel to implement international law and resolutions, or impose sanctions on it and recognize a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and full sovereignty over the territories occupied in 1967.
“The conference itself is an achievement. We’ve been trying for years to convince concerned international parties that bilateral negotiations with Israel aren’t feasible,” Zomlot told Arab News.
“Israel has been using negotiations just to procrastinate and gain more time to change the reality on the ground and build more settlements.”
He added that representatives from 72 countries, including 40 foreign ministers, are attending, making the Paris conference important because its decisions will make the international community shoulder its responsibilities in order to achieve justice for the Palestinian people.
“We want this conference to be an opportunity to have mechanisms for the implementation of a just solution to the Palestinian cause,” he said.
“We hope the conference will issue a clear decision and participants follow up the implementation of international resolutions.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the conference is an important opportunity to emphasize the two-state solution and the illegality of settlements.
“The international community is required to assert to the Israeli government that its rejection of UN resolutions would cause more unrest and instability in the region and the world,” said Abu Rudeineh.
“We’re ready for a just peace that leads to security and stability. The Palestinian, Arab and Islamic position considers Jerusalem a red line that can’t be tampered with by any party.”
According to a draft statement obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, the conference will urge Israel and the Palestinians “to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution.”
It also will affirm that the international community “will not recognize” changes to Israel’s pre-1967 lines without agreement by both sides.
The draft says participants will affirm “that a negotiated solution with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, is the only way to achieve enduring peace.”
Israel has settled some 600,000 of its citizens in the West Bank and East Jerusalem — occupied territories claimed by the Palestinians for a future independent state. Israel captured both areas in the 1967 war.