Palestinian official: France postpones international peace conference until January

Israel has consistently said that it opposes holding an international peace conference in Paris.

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December 14, 2016 09:19
1 minute read.
Hollande peach conference

Netanyahu, Hollande and Abbas. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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France has postponed an international peace conference that was expected to take place before the end of the year until the beginning of January, a top Palestinian official said.

“The conference was surprisingly postponed because [France] said they had not completed all preparations...

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and some parties requested its postponement in order to participate in it,” Palestinian Authority Ambassador to France Salman Harfi told the Voice of Palestine, the official PA radio station, on Wednesday morning.

Harfi added that French officials informed him that the conference will now take place at the beginning of January, saying that he plans to meet with French Foreign Ministry officials on Wednesday to determine a new date.

The French, meanwhile, denied that the conference has been postponed, saying they never set a firm date.

A French Foreign Ministry spokesman, asked about Harfi’s comments at a daily press briefing said, “France has never officially confirmed a date for this conference.”
Arab League discuss French MidEast peace initiative

Paris will do so, he said, after “consultations with all our partners.”



Nevertheless, French officials have said in the past that Paris hoped to hold the conference by the end of the year. Last week French President François Hollande invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet PA President Mahmoud Abbas on December 22, with the French press reporting that this was to be a day after the international conference.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said Jerusalem was not formally informed by the French that the conference had been either postponed or canceled.

The Palestinian leadership has vigorously lobbied for an international peace conference that includes multiple international parties since the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal in June 2015.

Israel has consistently said that it opposes holding an international peace conference in Paris.

“We support bilateral talks and we know that the only way to make progress is by talking directly to the Palestinians, not introducing a multiplicity of factors,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in October. “If we participated in such a conference, we would have to cater to the interests of all the countries participating in the initiative, and some of those countries have anti-Israel positions. There’s absolutely no reason we should make those countries partners in this process.”

The last round of peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaderships collapsed in April 2014.

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