Palestinian Ambassador to the European Union (EU) Abdul Rahim al-Farra speaks during an interview in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Feb. 25, 2019. The ambassador said that the League of Arab States (LAS)-EU Summit is a new beginning for an effective and more influential European role in the Palestinian cause. Speaking to Xinhua during the LAS-EU Summit, which concluded on Monday in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh city, al-Farra said that European leaders now have an important and active role in the Palestinian cause. (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa)
by Ahmed Shafiq
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian Ambassador to the European Union (EU) Abdul Rahim al-Farra said that the League of Arab States (LAS)-EU Summit is a new beginning for an effective and more influential European role in the Palestinian cause.
Speaking to Xinhua during the LAS-EU Summit, which concluded on Monday in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh city, al-Farra said that European leaders now have an important and active role in the Palestinian cause, adding that they have to play this role because of the historical and geographical ties linking both sides.
He pointed out that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas put the credibility of Europe at stake, adding that the Palestinian president's speech at the summit was "very strong."
Addressing the LAS-EU Summit, Abbas called on the EU member states to take practical steps to achieve peace, beginning with confronting the Israeli settlement projects in the occupied land and consolidating the vision of a two-state solution with irreversible political and legal steps, including recognition by the EU member states of the State of Palestine.
The Palestinian diplomat noted that Abbas's speech found great resonance among the Europeans, adding that a number of European diplomats confirmed that the Palestinian president pushed the European leaders to the corner.
"We have had condemnations of Israeli policies from various European countries ... time has come for these condemnations to be translated into actions on the ground," al-Farra said.
The diplomat said that Europe must play its role as a key player in the Middle East peace process. "Otherwise, there is no need for Europe to even call for a two-state solution."
Al-Farra added that the United States cannot have full control over the process alone.
He stressed that it is time for holding an international peace conference that would be organized by Arab and European countries and that would come out with a new international mechanism to be established to sponsor the peace process.
The Palestinian diplomat stressed that the U.S. has become virtually unable to find a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, noting that "the U.S. has dominated the Middle East peace process for years and did nothing."
"We are not demanding that Europe be an alternative to the U.S. but these EU member states must play their real role and use their influence and weight in the international community by calling for an international conference involving the EU and all the countries of the world," he added.
He pointed out that "Europe specifically has a great historical responsibility towards the Palestinian issue and should not abandon its responsibilities now and leave the file to the U.S. administration, which is no longer an honest broker."
The ambassador said that the final declaration of the LAS-EU Summit contained an important part on the Palestinian issue including focused and straightforward articles that are used for the first time by the European side.
"This is an important development in the European positions on Jerusalem, settlement, and ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories seized by Israel in 1967," he pointed out.
In the summit's declaration, European and Arab leaders reaffirmed their common positions on the peace process, the status of Jerusalem, and the illegality under the international law of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
"We reiterated our commitment to reaching a two-state solution on the basis of all relevant UN resolutions, as the only realistic way to end the occupation that began in 1967, including of East Jerusalem, and to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians through direct negotiations," the declaration said.
More than 50 European and Arab countries participated in the summit, which was co-chaired by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and and President of the European Council Donald Tusk.
During the summit, leaders from both sides discussed ways to strengthen ties and address a wide range of issues and common challenges, such as multilateralism, trade, investment, migration, security and regional situation.
The summit also provided an opportunity for leaders to discuss the latest developments in the region, such as the Middle East peace process and the situations in Yemen, Libya and Syria.