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Spain’s Premier Aims to Lay Groundwork for Peace Talks in Visit to Israel, Palestine

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez hopes to lay the groundwork for a peace conference and two-state solution in his upcoming visit to Israel, Palestine and Egypt, local daily El Pais reported on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the newly reelected leader of Spain will travel to Israel and Palestine to meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Sanchez will travel alongside his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo. Spain currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council. In January, that position will be handed over to Belgium.

On Friday, the two leaders are set to travel to Egypt to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abu Ghaith.

During the meetings, Sanchez intends to advocate for a peace conference – an initiative for which he got approval at the EU level.

Speaking from Brussels last month, he said the goal is “to find a definitive solution that allows for the coexistence of two states – Israel and Palestine – in peace and safety.”

In 1991, Spain hosted the significant Madrid Conference as an attempt to revive the Israel-Palestine peace process. The conference was followed by bilateral negotiations and meetings.

Before being reelected, Sanchez vowed to make recognizing the State of Palestine a key priority for Spain and the EU. However, diplomatic sources told El Pais that Spain’s recognition will not be immediate nor unilateral.

Instead, Sanchez hopes to advocate at the European level so that the EU, or at least most European countries, will also recognize Palestine as an independent state.

The Spanish premier also advocates for a two-state solution.

This will be the first time Sanchez visits Israel since the Israel-Palestine conflict escalated in October, making him one of the last European leaders to embark on a trip.

Besides the fact that Sanchez was only an acting prime minister up to last week, Spain has also been one of the most critical voices regarding the Israeli siege and bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

After some of Spain’s far-left ministers used terms like genocide to describe the situation and called for an end to a diplomatic relationship with Israel, the Israeli Embassy accused the ministers of being aligned with terrorism.

Spain’s Foreign Ministry snapped back, accusing the Israeli Embassy of misrepresenting their views and reminding the ambassador that Spain is an open democracy where politicians can speak their minds.

Sanchez has also long advocated for a humanitarian cease-fire, and a four-day pause in fighting is set to start on the day of his visit as Israel and Hamas, besides the humanitarian pause, agreed to the release of some hostages and prisoners.

Source: AA