French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said at a press conference in Jerusalem on Sunday that after a string of meetings with regional leaders, billed as having "very friendly" atmospheres, he has concluded that there is a willingness to return to direct negotiations.
"I found the same sense of worry on both sides," he said after meetings in Ramallah and Jerusalem earlier in the day. "The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an important issue for regional peace and security. It is important not only for the parties involved, but for the entire region."
Without a solution, Fabius said at the iconic King David Hotel, "tensions in the Middle East will flare, and there is real danger of an explosion."
France wants to help try and find a solution, he added, but it will not "replace the parties at the negotiation table. There is no substitution for direct talks."
"The first thing is to bring back the sides to the table. It is crucial that they talk directly," he said. "I have seen on both sides a readiness to return to talks."
Even if it is difficult, both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have said they want to return to negotiations, he said.