Arab and EU ministers to discuss Gaza war, peace efforts

Ministers from Arab states will meet with European Union counterparts in Brussels on Monday to try to forge a common path on ending the war in Gaza and building lasting peace, a senior EU official says.

Representatives from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates will join a regular meeting of foreign ministers from the 27-member EU, says Sven Koopmans, the EU’s special representative for the Middle East peace process.

Koopmans says the gathering was one of a series at which Arab and European countries were seeking common positions on ways to end the fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“Our assignment is to see how we can build a coalition where we try collectively to contribute (to peace efforts) without putting people in a corner,” Koopmans tells Reuters.

The EU has been riven by divisions over the war in Gaza, which followed Hamas’s deadly attack on Israel on October 7.

Koopmans says EU members agreed on core priorities such as ending the war, avoiding a regional war and working towards a peace settlement in which Israel and a Palestinian state would live side by side.

“We may have different positions on recognition but we have unanimity on the need for a Palestinian state,” he says.

Koopmans declines to provide details about Monday’s discussions, but said a major effort involving the United States and Arab and European countries is necessary to establish peace.

“Nobody alone is sufficient. But if we work together, and we are working on doing something concretely together, maybe we’re just about sufficient, at least to get things started,” he says.

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