Netanyahu was apparently referring to the European Union hosting Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Brussels recently to discuss ways to maintain the nuclear deal. Brussels and Tehran are in favor of keeping the deal as is, while Washington and Jerusalem have called for either drastic changes or a total annulment of the deal.
The meeting came in the wake of US president Donald Trump's decision, last year, to unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
On Monday, Ramallah and Jerusalem sought to advance their positions with their respective patrons: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted US Vice President Mike Pence in Jerusalem, showering him with great honor and affection in a bid to cement Washington’s pro-Israel disposition. At the same time, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was in Brussels trying to woo the European Union, in the hope it would volunteer to replace Washington as the main sponsor of the peace process.
However, Abbas’s hope for the EU to replace the US as main guardian of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — something that, were it to happen, would constitute a dramatic change to the Palestinians’ benefit, as Brussels largely supports their positions — is much less likely to occur. (The EU envisions a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital.)
What is needed, she maintained, is a “multilateral framework” that would include the Middle East Quartet — the EU, the US, the United Nations, and Russia — plus “a few Arab countries and possibly to Norway.”
“No effort will ever bring the two sides at the table if the international multilateral framework does not include the United States,” she declared. “The United States alone would not make it, the international community without the United States would not make it. We need to join forces.”
It will be interesting to see whether Ramallah uses this meeting as an opportunity to back down from its position and start again to engage constructively with Washington, or whether Abbas will continue to boycott the administration and look for other avenues to advance his statehood goal.