Søreide cautiously optimistic after Middle East meeting

Ine Eriksen SøreideBrussels, Belgium.Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide meets EU Secretary of State Federica Mogherini.Photo : Johan Falnes / NTB scanpix

The extraordinary meeting of the donor group for Palestine was characterised as constructive. But the process won’t move forward before the United States puts its new plan on the table.

‘There is reason to be carefully optimistic,’said Foreign Minister,Ine Eriksen Søreide of Høyre (H) after Wednesday’s meeting in Brussels.

Norway and the EU took the initiative for the extraordinary meeting of the donor group after USA’s President, Donald Trump,acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December, and announced that he would move the United States Embassy in Israel.

Søreide didn’t hide the fact that the announcement has made the situation more difficult. But this has made it important to gather all parties and players in the conflict around the same table, she believes.

Waiting for Trump

Israel and Palestine  both participated at ministerial level, and all the main players were in place. Søreide believes that the participants kept constructive positions, and that they showed willingness to engage.

But there is still much to be put in place before proper peace talks can start up again, she emphasised.

The elephant in the room is the new peace plan for the Middle East, as Trump has announced that he will come along. Without it, it is difficult to move on.

‘It is obviously important,’ said Søreide to NTB news.

‘We have clear expectations  that there must be an inclusive plan, and a plan that the parties can agree upon,’ she said.

United States must be onside

EU Secretary of State, Federica Mogherini, said that she neither knows what the plan will contain, nor when it will come.

‘What matters to us is first and foremost that everyone understands that the United States is crucial for the process to have some realistic chances of success. At the same time, the United States must understand that it will be difficult to get something without giving something’, she said.

Mogherini’s point of view is that more countries should be drawn into peace talks, including Arab countries such as Jordan and Egypt. As NTB News understands it, the idea is to expand the so-called Middle East Quartet, which consists of the EU, the UN, Russia and the United States.

‘A process where one or the other is missing will simply not work’.

Norway can play a new role Mogherini has also proposed to draw Norway deeper into the peace talks.

She referred to the role Norway already has as president for the dono



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