Portugal's foreign minister João Gomes Cravinho
Portugal's minister for foreign affairs João Gomes Cravinho. Image: ANDRÉ KOSTERS/LUSA

Portuguese minister in peace mission to Middle East

Minister of Foreign Affairs set for “political dialogue” in Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Egypt

Portugal’s minister for foreign affairs is setting out for Israel with his Slovenian counterpart today for meetings aimed at “political dialogue” and “relaunching the diplomatic path” to peace.

In a statement, the government says the joint visit by João Gomes Cravinho, and Slovenia’s minister of foreign and European affairs, Tanja Fajon, is intended to “continue the dialogue and consultations with actors in the region, contributing to the ongoing political dialogue, which is indispensable for responding to the situation and relaunching the diplomatic path towards building a lasting and sustainable peace, anchored in a two-State solution”.

The two ministers are due to meet Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in the south of the country tomorrow and will be received by Israeli president Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv.

On the same day, in Ramallah, on the West Bank, they will meet with the head of Palestinian diplomacy, Riyad al-Maliki, and will have a meeting with the prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh.

According to a note from the Portuguese ministry of foreign affairs, Saturday will be dedicated to “dialogue on the current situation and the prospects for peace in the region with two important regional partners – Jordan and Egypt”.

In Amman, the ministers are set to meet with Jordanian deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Ayman Safadi.

In the afternoon, in Cairo, in Egypt, the two ministers are scheduled to meet with their counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, as well as have a courtesy meeting with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. They are then scheduled to meet with the secretary-general of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, where they intend to discuss “the current situation from a regional perspective”, namely the role of the organisation and its cooperation with the European Union, “with a view to peace and stability in the Middle East”.

This is a critical moment in the conflict that has seen millions displaced, and thousands lose their lives (overwhelmingly women and children), in as much as a four-day ceasefire was meant to have started today, and over 50 hostages were meant to have been released in exchange for around 150 Palestinians held in Israeli jails. This has not happened, and is not now expected to happen before tomorrow, if then.

There are also doubts on many sides now as to the viability of a two-State solution after so much bloodshed. ‘On the ground’ many Israelis and Palestinians simply want to be able to live together in peace. The two-State solution is much more a political goal, than a goal of the people. As a recent article on CBC News has suggested, what is needed more than anything are “visionary leaders” – people who can see beyond current grievances. ND

Source material: LUSA/ SIC Notícias/ Al-Jazeera/ CBC