The Egyptian ambassador to Israel, Hazem Khairat, urged Palestinians and Israelis on Thursday to resume negotiations and to make peace, warning that “there is not much time left.”
Khairat delivered his speech at the 16th Herzliya Conference during which he stressed that a two-state solution represented the only hope of ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while addressing a series of issues which he identified as stumbling blocks to peace.
Acknowledging the “tremendous challenges and crises” engulfing the region, Khairat insisted, “that should not mean that the world is busy with these as more pressing issues so that other issues, in particular the Palestinian issue, can just wait. That is because ignoring the facts does not change the facts. Rather it can actually lead to the very explosion it attempted to avoid as the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence shows.”
Khairat further referenced what he described as the consequences of the absence of meaningful negotiations between the two conflicting parties.
“The current state of affairs represents only an example of tragic developments taking place in the last few years: The tension in Jerusalem, the deteriorating situation in the West Bank, including the settlements that are expanding in Area C erroding the land of the future of the State of Palestine as well as the incursion in Area A and B,” Khairat said.
These developments, Khairat contended, “combine to undermine hope for the future at a time when we all, Arabs and Israelis and all faiths, deserve peace and security.”
Citing the “deadlock” in the peace negotiations, the ambassador nevertheless reiterated Egypt’s optimism for achieving peace and expressed the country’s willingness to work with all parties, which would include preparing the appropriate Palestinian environment and activating the Arab peace initiative. Ultimately, however, “only Israelis and Palestinians can make the courageous choice to achieve it,” he concluded.
Finally, Khairat echoed President al-Sisi welcoming of the French Initiaitive for attaining peace as a “contribution to to the framework of international action to this aim. The Paris meeting has certainly made a new step towards peace. I have to say, Israelis and Palestinians must make peace for one simple reason because they must,” Khairat said.