Meeting today by videoconference between Vice Foreign Minister Marina Sereni, the Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Cristina Gallach, and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland.
The talks are part of the Italian-Spanish initiative launched by Ministers Di Maio and Gonzales Laya at the bilateral Summit in Palma de Mallorca on last 25 November. Through the joint action of the two countries, the initiative aims to keep the Peace Process at the centre of the international agenda, enhancing the visibility of the European Union in the dossier. The main subject of the discussion has been the definition of the priorities of the international community’s – and the EU’s – action after the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas that came into force on 21 May. Sereni, Gallach, and Wennesland have agreed that the focus must now be on consolidating the truce, primarily by lowering tension in East Jerusalem and reaching an agreement between Israel and Hamas on a long-term ceasefire.
It is also vital to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza and begin the reconstruction of the Strip to “guarantee that the funds are allocated to the population”, the Vice Minister said. It is also essential, according to Sereni, “to give Palestinian Authority a central role in the reconstruction, also to strengthen its credibility and authority in the eyes of the Palestinians. In this regard, it is important to support the intra-Palestinian reconciliation process, also to give legitimacy to the leaders who will then have to negotiate with Israel”.
Another topic of discussion has been promoting the EU’s role, both in humanitarian assistance and in restarting negotiations, when circumstances allow it. Finally, Vice Minister Sereni has pointed out that “the recent escalation between Israel and Hamas demonstrates, once again, the unsustainability of the status quo and how the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the only way to achieve a sustainable peace in the region”. The Vice Minister and her counterparts have then agreed on the need to restart the so-called “International Quartet for the Middle East” as soon as possible, the only internationally legitimate format to play a mediation role in the Peace Process.