France plows ahead with plans for Israeli-Palestinian peace summit

According to a Channel 2 report on Friday, the French government has submitted details of its diplomatic plan to members of the UN Security Council.

By MAARIV ONLINE
February 19, 2016 22:56
2 minute read.
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PM Netanyahu talks with President Abbas during a family photo for the opening day of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 . (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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There appears to be move afoot to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders together in a bid to revive the moribund peace process – with France leading the way.

According to a Channel 2 report on Friday, the French government has submitted details of its diplomatic plan to members of the UN Security Council.

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The document calls for the convening of an international summit which would include Arab states as well as representatives of the Quartet.

The agenda of the conference, which would take place as early as April, includes laying the groundwork for a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials this summer.

Earlier this week, the French envoy to Tel Aviv, Patrick Maisonnave, presented the Foreign Ministry with details on the French initiative to convene a peace conference in Paris this coming summer, with the aim of relaunching the diplomatic process that last broke down in April 2014.

The meeting between the French and Israeli officials came the day after a senior Palestinian Authority official rejected the possibility of a return to the negotiating table.

On Monday during a visit to Japan, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the Palestinians would never reengage in direct talks with Israel.



"Israel supports the direct negotiating process with the Palestinians, and opposes any predisposed attempt to determine the outcome of the talks," the Foreign Ministry said in reference to Malki's comments.

In January, outgoing French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius originally presented the French initiative, threatening that Paris would formally recognize a Palestinian state should its efforts to renew the peace process fail.

“France will engage in the coming weeks in the preparation of an international conference bringing together the parties and their main partners to preserve and achieve the two-state solution,” Fabius told a conference of French diplomats in Paris.

In response, Israeli officials blasted the initiative as "an erroneous approach" that gives Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas an excuse not to negotiate with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli officials said Netanyahu would decide whether or not to participate in the conference only after receiving an invitation.

Meanwhile, Abbas has welcomed the latest French initiative.

The Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Israel still supports the prospect of direct diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinians despite their "predisposition" to oppose attempts at reaching peace.

"This principle [of talks], which has accompanied the process from its beginning, has won the support of the international community over the years and also stood as the basis for peace negotiations with Jordan and Egypt," the ministry said in a statement.

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