A year ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met secretly with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan in a failed attempt by the Obama administration to convene a wider regional summit on Israeli-Palestinian peace, according to Israel’s Haaretz daily newspaper.
Again, Netanyahu raised the possibility of what he described as a “regional approach” to Israeli-Palestinian peace at the White House on a news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump, who appeared to embrace the idea.
In this context, Haaretz cited an unidentified senior officials in former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, who said that Netanyahu, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, Jordan’s King Abdullah and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry convened on February 21, 2016 in the Jordanian Red Sea resort of Aqaba.
But, the initiative to include other Arab states in the pursuit of peace with the Palestinians ultimately gradually ended , the newspaper said, “after Netanyahu withdrew his initial support, pointing to opposition within his right-wing government.”
Haaretz said that the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did not attend the Aqaba meeting but was updated by Kerry.
A cabinet member, who was present at a meeting with ministers from his Likud party and preferred to remain anonymous, said that Netanyahu acknowledged the meeting took place, though he said it was his own initiative to try and bring about a regional summit.
In this context, a spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minster declined to comment on the report. Sisi’s office issued a statement referring to the news report, though it did not name Haaretz, as having “incorrect information” , however, it did not deny that a meeting took place. No immediate comment was available from Jordan.
It is worth to mention that John Kerry launched his final peacemaking initiative after U.S.-backed talks between Israel and Palestine collapsed in 2014 over issues that included Israeli settlement-building in the occupied territories and Palestinian refusal to accept Israel’s demand to recognize it as a Jewish state.
According to Reuters,”Prospects for a new peace push appear dim with Netanyahu in a political tight spot at home and under police investigation for alleged abuse of office, which he denies.”
It also added that” far-right members of Netanyahu’s coalition have been emboldened by Trump’s suggestion that he was open to new ways to achieve peace that did not necessarily entail the creation of a Palestinian state, a benchmark of U.S. policy for decades.”
Trump said,”I’m looking at two states and one state, and I like the one both parties like.”
However, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the United States still supports a two-state solution.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, said he believed a Middle East peace push was possible. Al-Jubeir said,”My country stands ready together with other Arab countries to work and to see how we can promote that.”
Furthermore, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said also at the Munich conference that he supported the creation of a Palestinian state. He said,”The end game is no doubt a two-state solution,” adding a peace accord should be reached within a regional deal.
Lieberman spokesman declined to comment on whether the Israeli Defense Minster would be meeting in Munich with any senior Arab officials.