Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said Saturday that Egypt remained skeptical over an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal because of “settlement activity.”
In an interview with AFP Saturday, Fahmy said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “essentially accepted a historic compromise between the Palestinians and the Israelis and is simply asking for a contiguous state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
“We are worried, I would even add to it, to a degree skeptical, but committed to trying to help as much as we can,” Fahmy said, adding “settlement activity … is expanding and also going to the heart of the West Bank.”
Abbas it set to visit Cairo this upcoming week.
US Secretary John Kerry was in the region last week, trying to salvage faltering peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in a furious round of shuttle diplomacy.
Kerry met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abbas, President Shimon Peres and Jordan’s King Abdullah during his three-day trip.
In a rare but public attack on Israeli policies in the West Bank Thursday, Kerry called settlements “illegitimate” and warned that if current peace talks fail, Israel could face a third intifada and growing international isolation.
In an interview with Channel 2, he said ongoing settlement construction risked creating the sense that Israel was not “serious” about wanting a permanent accord. The US, he stressed, considers “settlements are illegitimate” and believes that “the entire peace process would be easier if these settlements were not taking place.”
How could Israel credibly claim to be working for peace, he asked, when it kept on building settlements in an area that was going to be Palestine?
Kerry brokered the re-start of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which began three months ago. But little progress has been made in the talks, which are supposed to produce an agreement by the end of April 2014. Both sides have remained largely quiet on the negotiations but there has been little, if any, progress evident.
Kerry has been hit with complaints from both sides during his trip while working to maintain an optimistic tone
The stalemate has prompted speculation that the US may need to increase its involvement in the talks and present its own outline for peace — or lower expectations and pursue a more limited, interim agreement, which Kerry has said he opposed.