Abbas to French envoy: PA contacting int'l parties about peace conference

Senior PLO official Erekat: Palestinians would lose most if French peace push failed.

March 16, 2016 00:28
2 minute read.
Pierre Vimont Ramallah

France's Middle East envoy Pierre Vimont (L) meets with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on March 15, 2016, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (photo credit: ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

The Palestinian leadership has already promoted to international parties the French plan to hold a multilateral conference on the conflict, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told French envoy Pierre Vimont in Ramallah on Tuesday.

Abbas added that the Palestinians are also talking with international parties about the ways to achieve a two state solution on the basis of the Arab Peace initiative of 2002.

Vimont presented the French plan to Palestinian officials, who welcomed the idea of holding an international conference for peace, but said they were not optimistic because Israel is opposed to it.

Abbas, who received Vimont in his office, praised France’s role and continued support for the peace process, according to a PA official.

The official said Abbas informed the French envoy that the PA leadership “fully supported” the idea of holding an international conference and that it was prepared to fully cooperate with France to pave the way for convening an international parley.

Vimont also briefed Abbas on the outcome of his talks with Israeli government officials on Monday and with other international parties about the proposed conference.

While in Ramallah, Vimont met with PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat to discuss the proposal.

Erekat told reporters after the meeting that there was no French initiative for peace in the Middle East, but only ideas for holding an international conference.

He told the French envoy that the Palestinians would benefit the most from the proposed international conference to “end the occupation, establish two states on the basis of the 1967 borders and halt Israeli extra-judicial executions.”

The Palestinians would be the biggest losers if the French ideas failed and the peace process stopped, he added.

Erekat also said he told the French envoy that the Palestinians were prepared to work with France on the idea of convening an international conference.

“We are a people paying with the blood of our sons and daughters at a rate of three per day,” Erekat said.

“We are a people who witness every day the destruction of the two-state solution option by the Israeli government through dictates, assassinations, extra-judicial executions, sieges, closures and the imposing of facts on the ground.

“I can’t say that there is a French initiative, yet we are prepared to work with France and the international community to ensure the success of the idea of the international conference.

The only solution lies in ending the occupation and Israeli war crimes, settlements, collective punishment and other practices,” he added.

In Brussels on Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault presented his initiative to the foreign ministers of the European Union’s 28 member states.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said all the member states welcomed Ayrault’s efforts to coordinate his country’s work with theirs and that of the Quartet.

The US has carefully made positive public statements about the initiative, but has yet to endorse it, preferring instead to see Israelis and Palestinians relaunch direct talks.

The last bilateral Israeli Palestinian peace process ended without results in April 2014.

Israel has been skeptical about the French efforts. The Foreign Ministry on Monday released a statement in which it said that the conflict is best solved through direct talks, between Israelis and Palestinians, without preconditions.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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