French PM: Paris summit a 'warning' because 2-state solution threatened

Just five days before Trump is sworn in, the conference provides a platform for countries to send a strong signal to the incoming American president.

By REUTERS
January 15, 2017 18:45
2 minute read.

French FM at Middle East summit in Paris, 15.1.17

French FM at Middle East summit in Paris, 15.1.17

 
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French President Francois Hollande signaled to US President-elect Donald Trump on Sunday that a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians is the only solution. Paris has warned him that plans to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem could derail peace efforts.

Some 70 countries, including key European and Arab states as well as the permanent members of the UN Security Council, gathered in Paris in the presence of US State Secretary John Kerry and the European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, among others.

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Hollande said in his opening speech that the summit was "a warning".

"Because the two-state solution, the one upon which the international community agreed, and this for several years, appears threatened."

But, just five days before Trump is sworn in, the conference provides a platform for countries to send a strong signal to the incoming American president.

Trump has pledged to pursue more pro-Israeli policies and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been for 68 years, to Jerusalem, all but enshrining the city as Israel's capital despite international objections.

Hollande said there was no going back on the 1993 Oslo peace accords that were meant yield a two-state solution.



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the Paris meeting as "futile". Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are represented at the conference.

Paris has said the meeting will not impose anything on Israel or the Palestinians and that only direct negotiations can resolve the conflict.

A draft communique seen by Reuters reaffirms existing international resolutions urges both sides to restate their commitment to the two-state solution and disavow officials who reject it. The communique asks the protagonists to "refrain from unilateral steps that prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations".

Diplomats said the communique could be toughened up with an allusion to Trump's plans for Jerusalem and whether to have a follow-up to the French initiative intensely debated.

Relations between the United States and Israel have soured during President Barack Obama's administration, reaching a low point late last month when Washington declined to veto a UN resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements in occupied territory.

Obama's secretary of state, John Kerry, said the settlement program threatened Middle East peace and the two-state solution.

Home to Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish communities, France has tried to breathe new life into the peace process over the past year.

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