In a meeting held in Spain on Monday, representatives from Arab states and the European Union converged to emphasise their shared commitment to a two-state solution as the key to resolving the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell highlighted the importance of the Palestinian Authority (PA) taking charge of Gaza, urging swift elections to bolster legitimacy and enhance governance.
During the gathering of Mediterranean nations in Barcelona, Borrell highlighted that almost all attendees, including all EU member states present, expressed a consensus on the imperative need for a two-state solution. This diplomatic stance reflects a unified push for a resolution that would establish separate states for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza alongside Israel.
Role of the Palestinian Authority
Borrell’s proposition for the PA to govern Gaza seeks to address the power vacuum that might arise in the absence of a consolidated leadership. He stressed the viability of this solution contingent on robust international support, cautioning against potential instability that could empower violent organisations if left unaddressed.
Calls for Immediate Ceasefire
The meeting also addressed the ongoing conflict, with Qatar announcing a two-day extension of an initial four-day truce—the first cessation of hostilities in the seven weeks since the Hamas raid on October 7. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, speaking on behalf of a group of ministers from the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, emphasised the urgency of an immediate ceasefire and the need to build on the current truce.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi called for discussions on Gaza’s administration to focus on treating the West Bank and Gaza as a single entity. He insisted that the Palestinian people should have the autonomy to decide their leadership, emphasising the interconnectedness of the two regions.
Palestinian Response and Historical Context
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al Maliki responded to the proposal, asserting that the PA had no imperative need to return to Gaza. He emphasised the longstanding presence of Palestinian institutions in the territory, pointing to the 60,000 public workers already stationed there. The historical context of the PA’s loss of control over Gaza in the 2007 power struggle with Hamas adds complexity to the discussions.
Germany’s Involvement and Israel’s Absence
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock addressed the conspicuous absence of Israel from the summit, citing apparent concerns over “one-sided hostility.” Baerbock emphasized the importance of dialogue and understanding in the face of deepening rifts, advocating for continued engagement despite the challenges.
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The meeting in Spain marks a significant step toward a collective diplomatic approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The push for a two-state solution, coupled with calls for an immediate ceasefire, underscores a shared commitment to finding a lasting resolution. As the international community navigates these diplomatic waters, the challenges ahead are evident, but the dialogue initiated in Barcelona offers a glimmer of hope for a future characterised by stability and coexistence.