The United States cannot be the sole broker for a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, the European Union warned on Wednesday when high level representatives from the EU and the US met in Brussels.“If I can put it in the headline: Nothing without the United States, nothing with the United States alone,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said. “Any framework for negotiations must be multilateral and must involve all players,” she continued, adding that “a process without one or the other would simply not work, would simply not be realistic.”Mogherini spoke to the media on the sidelines of the meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee that included Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, US special envoy Jason Greenblatt, and the Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Foreign Minister Riad Malki. The Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers were also present.The forum, which deals with financial assistance to the PA, meets twice a year, even though such direct dialogue is frozen in other venues.
Wednesday’s meeting was a special additional meeting to deal with the PA’s funding crisis in light of US budgetary cuts, and to focus on aid to the Gaza Strip. It is the first time the Israelis, Palestinians and Americans have met since President Donald Trump on December 6 recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.The Palestinians have refused to talk with the US since that announcement, including when President Mike Pence visited the region in January.Representatives of the 15-member forum spoke to Greenblatt against the Jerusalem statement and underscored the importance of the two-state solution.In a statement from the meeting published on his Twitter page, Greenblatt remaindered the forum that Trump’s approach “to peace negotiations would depart from some of the orthodoxy held by our predecessors.“President Trump believes that fresh thinking and bold decisions are needed to advance the cause of peace, and we have acted in accordance with that vision,” Greenblatt said.Jerusalem has been “the cultural and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people for thousands of years,” and the president has not rewritten history by recognizing this reality, he said.“The president was absolutely clear that the United States has not prejudged any final-status issues, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. We have not taken a position on borders,” Greenblatt said.He urged the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel, stating: “Peace will not be achieved by walking away from negotiations. Peace only has a chance of success through respectful, continuous dialogue and through negotiations.” Mogherini told reporters, “Any plan that has a possibility to become a realistic road map, out of experience, cannot but be based on the Oslo Accords and the two-state perspective.”Under that scenario, she said, Jerusalem would be the future capital of both states, Israel and Palestine.The EU, she said, has offered the PA a new financial assistance package of €42.5 million, which includes activities in east Jerusalem and support for state building and strengthening civil society.Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi tweeted from the meeting that the “Holy city must be a symbol of peace rather than land for occupation, oppression. Economic measures can support political 2-state solution but cannot replace it.”Hamdallah tweeted that he had called on “the donor international committee to take a solid position to influence Trump to backtrack on his unilateral decisions on Jerusalem and refugees.”Hanegbi tweeted, “I reiterated Israel’s commitment to ease the suffering of the people of Gaza and to bilateral negotiations aimed at ending the conflict once and for all.“I demanded the immediate return [from Gaza] of the bodies of [IDF soldiers] Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul and the release of [Israeli civilians] Avraham Mengistu and Hiyam al-Sayed.”Of his meeting in Brussels with Greenblatt, Hanegbi said, “I thanked him for his friendship and the strong support of the [Trump] administration. Israel is committed to partnering with the USA to build a better, more prosperous and peaceful Middle East.”