Meeting of the Socialist International Middle East Committee, Cairo

14 March 1998

The Socialist International Middle East Committee, SIMEC, met on 14 March in Cairo. The meeting was hosted by the National Democratic Party, NDP, and was held at the party's headquarters. Bjørn Tore Godal, Chair of SIMEC, opened the meeting and delegates were welcomed by Kamal El-Shazly, Egyptian Minister of Parliamentary Affairs. Youssef Wali, NDP General Secretary and Minister of Agriculture, and Safwat El-Sherif, Minister of Information, also attended the opening of the meeting.

The Committee's discussions, which were opened by Osama El-Baz, political advisor to President Mubarak, reviewed the serious conditions prevailing in the Middle East, particularly in the light of the current deadlock in the peace process. The Committee expressed its deep concern at the standstill and called on the parties to implement their commitments. The Committee condemned the settlement policies of the current Israeli government and called on it to desist from unilateral practices. The Committee observed that the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government had to spare no effort to put an end to extremist activities. In its statement, the Committee called on 'the peace process sponsors to continue their efforts in re-installing negotiations on all tracks with a view to achieving a just and comprehensive peace, bringing security and stability in the region'.

The Committee also heard a report from the Chair of the Working Group on the Kurdish Question on the meeting of the group held on 23 February in Stockholm.

Participants from a number of regions attended, including representatives from SI-member parties from Israel, the Israel Labour Party and Mapam/Meretz, and from the Territories under Palestinian Authority, Fatah. Delegates were also addressed by Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority and leader of Fatah, at a special gathering of members of the Committee in the evening.