Israel said on Friday that it will reject any French initiative to re-start peace negotiations with the Palestinians.
Jerusalem reacted shortly after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that his government will recognize a Palestinian state if its efforts in coming weeks to try to break the deadlock between Israelis and Palestinians fail.
"France will engage in the coming weeks in the preparation of an international conference bringing together the parties and their main partners, American, European, Arab, notably to preserve and make happen the two-state solution," he said.
A French diplomatic source added that Paris intended to launch this conference by the summer.
The Middle East peace process has stalled because of differences over borders and settlements. There have been no serious moves to resume the peace talks between Israel and Palestinians.
If this last attempt at finding a solution hits a wall, "well...in this case, we need to face our responsibilities by recognizing the Palestinian state," Fabius said.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Fabius added that France had a responsibility to try to keep up efforts to find a solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
"We see that unfortunately colonization continues and that recently, the Israeli prime minister went so far as to reproach the UN secretary-general for encouraging terrorism on the basis that he had reminded of colonization's illegality and asked that it cease," Fabius said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday described Israel's settlements as "provocative acts" that raised questions about its commitment to a two-state solution, nearly 50 years after occupying lands the Palestinians seek for a state.
The United States, European Union and the United Nations have issued unusually stern criticism of Israel, provoking a sharp response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and raising Palestinians' hopes of steps against their neighbor.
A diplomatic source in Jerusalem told The Jerusalem Post
’s Hebrew-language sister publication Ma’ariv
that Paris is essentially encouraging Palestinian intransigence by signaling its willingness to recognize statehood, thus prejudicing the outcome of negotiations.
“The foreign minister’s statement offers incentive to the Palestinians to reach a deadlock,” an Israeli official said. “It is not possible to conduct negotiations or to achieve peace in such a manner.”