Pretoria – Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane successfully has concluded participating in a Ministerial Meeting on the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) in Paris, France.
The meeting initiated by the Government of the Republic of France aimed to re-kindle the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which collapsed in 2014 with the outbreak of the Fifty-Day Gaza War in June-July 2014.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane attended a meeting at the invitation of the French Foreign Minister, Jean Marc Ayrault.
The meeting was opened by French President Francois Hollande, who called on the international community to revive efforts in finding a lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two-state solution in line with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions, Madrid Principles, Arab Peace Plan and the Quartet Roadmap.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, together with Foreign Ministers from over 20 countries, including United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban ki Moon, permanent members of the UN Security Council, members of the Quartet and the Arab Quartet, held a round-table discussion to find a mechanism to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict and to reaffirm the two-state solution as the only viable solution to the conflict.
During the discussions, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane stated that South Africa has in the past initiated dialogue between different groups of Palestinians and Israelis, where South Africa shared its experience in negotiations, peace-building, constitution-building processes and the transition to democratic transformation.
“Over the past two years, presidential envoys appointed by President Jacob Zuma have visited a number of countries in the region and interacted with leaders and opinion-makers, soliciting views on how to revive and take forward the two-state solution. This is why we have converged here today to say to Palestinians and Israelis: Dialogue is still possible. Dialogue is the only way,” said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.
The meeting on Friday culminated in the adoption of a Middle East Peace Initiative Joint Communiqué.
The participants reaffirmed their support for a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The participants also reaffirmed that a negotiated two-state solution is the only way to achieve an enduring peace with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
However, they expressed concern that current trends on the ground, including the continued acts of violence and ongoing settlement activity, were threatening the prospects for a two-state solution.
In this regard, the participants called on both Israel and Palestine to demonstrate with policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution in order to rebuild trust and create the conditions for the resumption of meaningful direct negotiations aimed at ending the occupation that began in 1967 and resolving all permanent status issues.
The participants also discussed possible ways in which the international community could help advance the prospects for peace, including by providing meaningful incentives to the parties to make peace.
These could include institution-building, civil society dialogue and strengthening economic partnerships, among others.
The participants further highlighted the potential for regional peace and security as envisioned by the Arab Peace Initiative and recognised the role played by the Quartet and key regional stakeholders.
It is expected that France will host an international summit before the end of the year. The conference will consolidate the efforts of countries and key role – players in advancing the MEPP.
Following the conclusion of the meeting, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane held bilateral talks with her French counterpart.