Spanish FM: US losing its role as Israel-PA mediator

Spanish Foreign Minister says Washington is "aligning" with Israel.

Elad Benari,

Josep Borrell
Josep Borrell
Reuters

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell warned Tuesday that Washington was losing its traditional mediating role in the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict by "aligning" with Israel.

"I regret that the United States, which for many years played a role in contributing to the peace process... are unfortunately disqualifying themselves from playing a mediator role that has the confidence of both parties," Borrell told a press briefing in Madrid with the Palestinian Authority (PA) official in charge of foreign affairs, Riyad al-Maliki.

"The minister told me of his serious concern with regards to the situation... as a consequence of the alignment of the United States on Israeli positions," Borrell added, according to AFP.

US President Donald Trump has pledged to unveil a plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace saying he wants to reach the "ultimate deal".

Maliki said, however, that the US administration had decided "to be part of the problem and not part of the solution".

"The United States see the conflict through Israel's eyes, they have adopted the Israeli position," he added, calling on the international community to "take measures to save the peace process".

The US peace plan, which has been dubbed the “Deal of the Century” has been in the works for several months.

However, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has refused to consider the Trump administration an honest broker for negotiations since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December and has been boycotting administration officials.

Borrell and Maliki also reacted in their comments to the US announcement on Friday that it would end funding for UNRWA, the United Nations' agency for “Palestinian refugees”.

The United States also announced last month that it was cancelling more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the PA.

Borrell, who condemned the moves, said Spain would double its own, far smaller contribution to UNRWA, from one to two million euros.

He said he and Maliki had also talked about "recognition of a Palestinian state".

The Spanish parliament voted unanimously in 2014 to recognize “Palestine”, but that was a largely symbolic move with no real diplomatic implications.

In addition to Spain, other countries that have recognized “Palestine” include Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Greece and Portugal. The PA also inaugurated an embassy in the Vatican last January.

These moves, like the Spanish move, are symbolic in nature as well.


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