Egypt’s Participation in the 8th Union for the Mediterranean Regional Forum in Barcelona
Monday، 27 November 2023 - 12:00 AM
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry participated on November 27, 2023, in the meetings of the 8th Union for the Mediterranean Regional Forum, hosted by the Spanish city of Barcelona, which is held this year at the invitation of both the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the European Union, with the participation of representatives of the Union’s member states, and Israel’s boycott of the meeting.
This year's forum meetings are allocated to discussing developments of the situation in the Gaza Strip. The ministerial committee emanating from the recent Arab-Islamic Summit’s Resolution, in charge with pushing ahead with putting an end to the war in Gaza, was also invited to participate in the Forum's activities.
This year’s edition of the regional forum included holding a ministerial roundtable entitled “the critical situation in Israel and Gaza-Palestine as well as the consequences in the region and the way forward,” to allow for exchanging views and assessments among the member states of the Union for the Mediterranean on means to end the war in Gaza as soon as possible, and pave the way for a political path based on the two-state solution leading to the establishment of the independent Palestinian state.
Shoukry was keen to stress the importance of the timing of this meeting in light of the critical historical circumstance in which the occupied Palestinian territories are exposed to an unprecedented aggression that claimed the lives of more than 14,000 civilians, most of which are women and children, in addition to millions of Palestinians enduring practices that violate all principles of humanity.
He also emphasized the importance of the role that the Union for the Mediterranean must play in halting the war against Gaza, in light of what was stipulated in the Paris and Marseille founding Declarations of the Union for the Mediterranean regarding the importance of creating a Mediterranean region enjoying peace, stability, security and prosperity, and the importance of a just, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict in light of the agreed upon terms of reference, while highlighting the role of the European Union in advancing the peace process and supporting the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
He also noted that Israel's abstention from participating in today's meeting and its explicit threatening to freeze its membership in the Union for the Mediterranean attests the contradictions in the current Israeli government's approach towards regional cooperation to resolve the crisis, and the concept of coexistence.
Moreover, Minister Shoukry reviewed the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip due to the brutal Israeli military operations and its targeting of civilians, stressing that the so-called “Israel’s legitimate right to self-defense” does not extend to the occupying power in confronting the people it occupies and exercises utmost oppression and imposes isolation against it. In addition, targeting civilians and their facilities cannot be described as self-defense, not to mention its inconsistency with international law and international humanitarian law. He also stressed that the actual humanitarian situation necessitates implementing a ceasefire, especially in view of the alarming loss of children’s lives in Gaza, which has exceeded the losses resulting from the conflicts since 2009, and the importance of ensuring permanent and sustainable access of humanitarian aid, and intervening to halt any deliberate practices by Israel to obstruct or delay the entry of basic needs to alleviate the human suffering endured by the people of the Gaza Strip.
the Minister of Foreign Affairs outlined the importance for the recent temporary ceasefire agreement, which was facilitated through the cooperative efforts of Egypt, the United States and Qatar, to be an incentive for the international community, especially the United Nations and the Security Council, to work seriously towards reaching a permanent and unconditional ceasefire and enhancing international efforts to facilitate the access of vital humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.
Minister Shoukry also called on the member states of the Union for the Mediterranean to take strong positions in order to support the implementation of an immediate ceasefire, being the only path to contain the repercussions of the catastrophic crisis on the Gaza Strip and prevent the scope of conflict from spiralling into other regions. He also called on the Member States of the Union to recognize the State of Palestine with no preconditions or additional obstacles, and pressure to implement the two-state solution on the basis of international legitimacy resolutions.
In this context, Minister Shoukry indicated the aspiration of the Arab and Islamic Group to support the resolution put forward by the two groups before the Security Council to address the existing deficiency in the system of bringing humanitarian aid into Gaza, stressing the responsibility of global stakeholders in ensuring the access of aid to a sufficient and sustainable manner to alleviate the human suffering of the people of the Gaza Strip.
He also stressed Israel's responsibility, in its capacity as the Occupying Power, to provide services and humanitarian aid to the people of the Gaza Strip, in accordance with its obligations under international humanitarian law.
The Foreign Minister concluded his intervention by emphasizing the collective position that categorically rejects the policies of the Israeli side aiming to forcibly displace the population of the Gaza Strip from their territories, by creating new conditions that make the Gaza Strip unliveable, in addition to fully condemning the escalation in the frequency of attacks and violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank, which threatens regional peace.
Shoukry also reiterated what Egypt and the rest of the Arab Group had previously warned within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean regarding the consequences of being content with managing the conflict and not seeking to settle the Palestinian cause, stressing that there is no way to achieve peace, security and stability in the region without a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause based on the two-state solution and in accordance with the international legitimacy resolutions.