Germany urges key role for Gulf in Gaza two-state push

Chancellor says countries such as UAE that have normalised ties with Israel should have prominent role

More than 18,400 people have died in Gaza since the Israel-Gaza war erupted on October 7. EPA
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A post-war order in the Middle East should give a prominent place to countries such as the UAE, which have normalised relations with Israel, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday.

Highlighting how a push for a two-state solution would follow the conflict, Mr Scholz called on Gulf states to work with Europe on Gaza’s reconstruction as he sketched out plans for “the time when the weapons fall silent” in the Israel-Gaza war.

He said he would press European leaders to consider the region’s longer-term future at an EU summit on Thursday and Friday, although officials are not sure whether they will express a joint view on the war.

EU leaders struggled to reach a common position in the aftermath of Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, before eventually agreeing a four-paragraph statement that called for “reinvigorated efforts” towards a two-state solution.

The death toll in Gaza stands at more than 18,400 after weeks of Israeli bombardment and ground operations, despite efforts to broker humanitarian truces.

“Especially after the horrors of October 7, any post-conflict order must offer reliable protection to people in Israel,” Mr Scholz said, addressing German MPs before the summit.

“Such an order should also incorporate countries in the region, especially those that have signed normalisation treaties with Israel or are considering doing so.”

“This, however, will only work if there is a formula for a political solution, and this formula is and remains a two-state solution that we have to get closer to, step by step.”

The UAE and Bahrain normalised relations with Israel with the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020, with Morocco subsequently making a similar agreement.

Prospects for “lasting peace” will be a subject of discussion at the two-day EU summit, European Council President Charles Michel wrote in an invitation letter to the bloc’s 27 leaders.

“We have to be strong in supporting Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself against Hamas, as well as in unequivocally defending international law and international humanitarian law,” he said.

Mr Scholz said there would be “no way around” strengthening the Palestinian Authority’s political role in any peace settlement for Gaza, although he said its “obvious shortcomings” would need addressing.

“Reconstruction and economic perspective can, in such a phase, contribute to stability,” he said.

“The EU can play a role in this, but countries in the region and the Gulf states should also assume responsibility.

Updated: December 14, 2023, 11:50 AM