Tony Blair in Cairo for Middle East Peace Talks

Tony Blair, representative of the Middle East Quartet, arrived in Cairo on Sunday to look into the latest developments of the Middle East peace process.

Blair, who formerly served as the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, is scheduled to meet with a number of officials during his visit, reported state-run news agency MENA.

Two Palestinians attacked a Jerusalem Synagogue last Tuesday, killing four people in the holy city’s deadliest incident in six years. The perpetrators were immediately shot dead by Israeli police.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri and United States Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the incident during a meeting in the British capital, London last week. They stressed the importance of resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, in light of the latest escalation.

Kerry launched an attempt to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in July 2013, coordinating direct negotiations between both sides. Negotiations collapsed upon reaching a pre-planned deadline in April with little results.

The Quartet was established in 2002 to help mediate peace negotiations in the Middle East. It is made up of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia. Its meetings include representatives from the aforementioned bodies as well as special envoys from the Quartet.

Egypt announced on August 26 reaching a ceasefire agreement within the Palestinian Gaza strip, ending a 50-day war between Israel and Gaza’s ruling body Hamas that has left 2139 Palestinians killed and over 11,100 injured. On the Israeli side sixty-four soldiers and six civilians were killed.

Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian north of the Gaza Strip on Sunday, marking the first hostile act since the end of the war, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

Indirect negotiations between Israel and Palestinian factions, sponsored by Cairo, were scheduled to resume within a month after the start of the new Gaza ceasefire, as per the agreement.

The first round of negotiations was held late September. Meeting parties then agreed to reconvene in October to resume the indirect negotiations.

On October 26, Egypt notified Hamas that it postponed the second round of negotiations, two days after a deadly militant attack in the Sinai Peninsula which left at least 30 security personnel killed.

Egypt closed the Rafah border-crossing on October 25 “until further notice” following the attacks.

Source : Aswat Masriya