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While the specter of the Israeli land invasion of Gaza hovers in the Middle East, the International Peace Conference is being held today in Cairo, Egypt. The objective of the summit, promoted by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi, is to bring the Palestinian issue back to the center of diplomacy, with the hope of defusing an all-out conflict between Israel and Hamas which currently appears inevitable. Or at least prevent the crisis from spreading from Gaza to the rest of the region (ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR: THE LIVE UPDATES – THE SPECIAL).
Meloni is also waiting
PA leader Abu Mazen will participate in the peace summit. The participation of, among others, Charles Michel and Josep Borrell for the EU, the Chinese envoy for the Middle East Zhai Jun and the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov is expected. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will also be there, who is especially concerned about the humanitarian emergency caused by the conflict in Gaza. The Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is expected to be present, although this is not yet 100% certain, together with some other European leaders and representatives, to assert Italy’s role as an important interlocutor in the Mediterranean. It is probable, although not yet official, that the Prime Minister will also fly to Israel in the evening to meet Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Head of the Jewish State Herzog. With tanks massed on the Gaza border and Israeli army units ready for the invasion for the showdown with Hamas, General Sisi is attempting to involve the widest possible number of international partners to study alternative solutions to weapons. “Coordination and cooperation” to prevent the development of the crisis from “getting out of hand”, is his appeal on the eve of the meeting.
Europe responded to the Egyptian leader’s invitation to the summit, but while Berlin, Paris and London limited themselves to sending foreign ministers, Rome will almost certainly be represented by the head of government, as will Madrid and Athens (with Pedro Sanchez and Kyriakos Mitsotakis). Meloni’s presence is considered key in executive circles to weigh his role in a discussion table that risks being “unbalanced” against Israel, given the absence of many other prominent European leaders. Furthermore, it is underlined, his participation would bring “added value” for the Western bloc thanks to Rome’s good relations with regional partners, from Erdogan’s Turkey to the Gulf monarchies. The Cairo summit, which will be attended by other Arab protagonists such as the Jordanian King Abdallah and the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, will be an opportunity to “relaunch the peace process in the region”, revitalizing the two-people solution in two states, underlined Egyptian diplomacy, speaking on behalf of the capitals of the region. This prospect is also considered unavoidable by Europe, but with one clear distinction: there is no longer room for Hamas. The Italian government is also moving along this line.
The Italian position
Since the attack on Israel on 7 October, Meloni and Minister Tajani have condemned the “brutality” of the Palestinian militiamen, but at the same time they have activated contacts with Western and Arab partners to avoid a de-escalation of the conflict and to push the two parties to return to talking about peace. The prime minister herself urged the international community, including Israel, to “not fall into the trap of Hamas”, which to “prevent the process of normalization of the region” started with the Abraham Accords wants to unleash a spiral of violence that could “reunify the “Arab public opinion against Israel”. Precisely to keep the dialogue alive, the Prime Minister could also fly to Tel Aviv as Joe Biden, Olaf Scholz and Rishi Sunak did in recent days.