PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Tuesday slammed the UK and Australia for their refusal to support a declaration that emerged earlier in the week from an international conference on Middle East peace in Paris. "We regret and denounce the reservations made by the United Kingdom and Australia to the final statement of the Paris Peace Conference," he said in a statement. Erekat stated that the peace declaration "emphasized the commitment of the international community to the two-state solution and to end Israel's occupation of Palestine."
On Sunday the British Foreign Office refused to endorse the Paris Declaration, which reaffirmed support for a two-state solution, and called for a stop to the violence and “ongoing settlement activity.” It also called on each side “to refrain from unilateral steps that prejudge the outcome of negotiations on final-status issues, including, inter alia, on Jerusalem, borders, security, and refugees, which they will not recognize.”“We have particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them," the office declared. Adding that its timing right before America transitions into a new president also wasn't ideal. Australia expressed similar sentiments, ABC Australia reported. "While the Australian Government was represented at the Paris conference, this does not mean we agree with every element of the final statement," a spokesperson from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's office told ABC. "The most important priority must be a resumption of direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians for a two-state solution as soon as possible."Erekat, however, called the reservations of the countries "groundless.""For years substantial efforts were made by France and many other countries around the world to push the political process forward on the basis of international law, and we were expecting the United Kingdom, in particular, to play an effective role in the international system that rejects the Israeli occupation and its settlement enterprise," Erekat stated. "We call upon both countries to correct this mistake and to recognize the State of Palestine in line with their support and commitment to the two-state solution."
Israeli, Palestinian officials criticize Paris peace conference