TThis is the eighth Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean (UpM), a meeting of foreign ministers and which will be attended today by the head of Portuguese diplomacy João Gomes Cravinho.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority are part of the UfM, but Tel Aviv canceled its presence in Barcelona on Friday after the meeting’s initial agenda was changed and its sole point was “the critical situation in Israel and Gaza-Palestine , as well as the consequences in the region”.
Tel Aviv said that UfM should be “a practical platform to foster cooperation between different countries for the benefit of all the peoples of the Mediterranean”, but it now runs “the risk of transforming it into another international forum in which Arab countries criticize Israel”.
This boycott frustrates the objective of the Spanish Government, host of the UfM forums, of making this meeting a platform for dialogue and rapprochement between Israel and Arab countries, including the Palestinian authorities.
Israel’s decision not to be in Barcelona also coincided with the visit of the Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, together with his Belgian counterpart, Alexander de Croo, on Thursday and Friday, to the Middle East, during which both made statements that the Tel Aviv Government considered “support for terrorism” by Hamas.
Sánchez and de Croo condemned the October 7 attack on Israel by the radical Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and called for the release of Israeli hostages, but criticized Israel for its disregard for international law, “the indiscriminate killing of “innocent Palestinian civilians” and the “unacceptable destruction of Gaza” in Tel Aviv’s military operation in recent weeks in this territory.
The UfM Regional Forum is co-chaired by the head of EU diplomacy, Spaniard Josep Borrell, and Jordanian minister Ayman Safadi, who said on Saturday that Israel “does not want to talk or listen.”
“We see Israel attacking everyone who doesn’t agree with them – Secretary General [das Nações Unidas] Guterres, [o chefe da diplomacia europeia] Josep Borrell -, anyone who is not subscribing to Israeli aggression or even who is calling for a ceasefire”, said Ayman Safadi, questioned by Lusa after a meeting, in Amman, with his Portuguese counterparts, João Gomes Cravinho, and Slovenian, Tanja Fajon, in Amman.
Today’s meeting, according to the Jordanian minister, “will allow for a frank and open conversation, between neighbors and partners, about how to end this war and respond to the catastrophic humanitarian impact” and discuss how to move towards a plan for peace in the region “of once and for all,” Ayman added.
The Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs considered Israel’s boycott of the UfM meeting “a lost opportunity”, but argued that it should not impede the deepening of “dialogue with Arab countries” in relation to “the point of arrival with which everyone agrees, which is the solution of two states, which live side by side and in peace and security”, João Gomes Cravinho told Lusa.
The two-state solution [Israel e Palestina]he maintained, “it is an objective that can no longer be postponed”.
43 countries are part of the UpM – the 27 from the EU and a further 17 Mediterranean states from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, including Palestine, not officially recognized as a state by all the others.
The UpM was created in 2008 and is heir to the Euro-Mediterranean Conference, founded in 2015 and known as the “Barcelona process”, with the aim of fostering cooperation in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
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