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Arab League: Palestinian-Israeli conflict needs two-state solution   

The Peninsula - 17 February, 2017

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict requires a two-state solution, the Arab League and Egypt reaffirmed on Thursday, distancing themselves from a move away from that commitment by US President Donald Trump.

The idea of a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel has underpinned Middle East peace efforts for decades.

But the Republican president said on Wednesday after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would accept whatever peace the two sides chose, whether it entailed two states or one.

Egypt was committed to a two-state solution, a Foreign Ministry spokesman told state news agency MENA.

In comments also reported by MENA, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit agreed, adding that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem would make the Middle East more volatile.

“It requires a comprehensive and just settlement based on a two-state solution and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on ... 1967 borders with its capital in Jerusalem,” it quoted Aboul Gheit as saying after meeting the UN secretary-general chief Antonio Guterres in Cairo.

In Israel, Netanyahu’s far-right political allies hailed the US shift in support for a Palestinian state and shrugged off a call by Trump to curb Israeli settlements on occupied land.

Meanwhile, the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process told the Security Council that the two-state solution remains “the only way” to meet the aspirations of the Palestinians and Israelis,.

The council met to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The two-state solution remains the only way to achieve the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples,” Nickolay Mladenov told the council.

“Some may hold the illusion that the conflict can be ‘managed’ indefinitely,” Mladenov said. “That the absence of a clear strategy to advance peace is a strategy in itself.”

The envoy urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to “carefully contemplate the future,” which he warned could be one “built on perpetual conflict, rising extremism and occupation.”

Britain, France and Sweden reaffirmed their support for a two-state solution. “It is very dangerous to move away from the two-state solution idea, especially before you have something viable as an alternative,” Sweden’s Ambassador Olof Skoog warned.

“We don’t see any viable alternative right now,” Skoog told reporters ahead of the meeting. Sweden has recognized Palestinian statehood.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said his government “continues to believe that the best solution for peace in the Middle East is the two-state solution.”

French Ambassador Francois Delattre echoed Mladenov’s comments, saying: “should the prospect of a Palestinian State disappear, it would open the door to more extremism and more terrorism.”

The US position on the Middle East peace process is “confused and worrying,” France’s foreign minister said after talks with his US counterpart, affirming that the only realistic option was a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers meeting in Bonn that he had been partly reassured by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assertion that sanctions on Russia over its stance in Ukraine would only be lifted if there was progress in the Minsk agreements.

He also said was a clear difference in opinion between the two allies on the Iranian nuclear deal, with the US wanting to review it from scratch.

Separately, Iran said Thursday that Israel’s atomic arsenal is the biggest danger to world peace.

Israel is the “biggest threat to the peace and security in the region and the world,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said, quoted by state news agency IRNA.
Trump had warned Wednesday after meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington that the “threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions” was one of the major security challenges facing Israel.

The US president told reporters that he would do “more to prevent Iran from ever developing — I mean ever — a nuclear weapon.”

But Ghasemi dismissed the comments by Trump and Netanyahu comments as “nonsense.”

“The bitter truth is that these unjust claims are being repeated by the Zionist regime that doesn’t abide by any international laws and has hundreds of warheads in its atomic arsenal,” Ghasemi said, referring to Israel.

Ghasemi said the UN atomic watchdog had repeatedly confirmed the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
 
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