Israel reprimands French envoy over Temple Mount observers proposal

A Foreign Ministry spokesman characterized the meeting as “sharp,” and said it dealt with the entirety of Israeli-French relations.

October 19, 2015 12:50
4 minute read.
Border Police officers patrol Temple Mount area

Border Police officers patrol Temple Mount. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The Foreign Ministry called in French envoy Patrick Maisonnave on Monday to protest Paris' proposal to place international observers on the Temple Mount, and complained about France's penchant to put forward initiatives concerning Israel without consulting it or taking its interests into account.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman characterized the meeting as “sharp,” and said it dealt with the entirety of Israeli-French relations.

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Paris angered Israel earlier this year when it considered bringing a resolution to the UN Security Council calling for negotiations toward a Palestinian state by 2017 based on the pre-1967 lines.

Israel, according to the Foreign Ministry, expressed its “determined opposition” to the French proposal to place international observers on the Temple Mount.

“Israel is opposed to all moves that affect its vital interests that are not coordinated with it and are drawn up without its involvement,” the spokesman said.

According to the spokesman, Maisonnave said France was considering different ideas in light of what he described as the “continued stalemate in the peace process.”

A spokeswoman at the French embassy in Tel Aviv said that the French proposal for the Temple Mount was only in its “preliminary” stages, and that Paris realizes it will need consensus on the Security Council.

She said Paris intended to consult with all the involved parties, including Israel, at a later stage. She said that the idea came about because of a sense that the Security Council needed to “send a message.”

“We were very concerned about the attacks in Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank,” she said. “The priority was to ease the tensions.” She added that it was “well known that the lack of a political horizon with the peace process is one of the elements that led to the situation today.”

Last Friday, at an emergency Security Council meeting to discuss the situation, France’s ambassador Francois Delattre stressed the “urgency of finding a sustainable political solution to the conflict.”

Delattre stated that France had warned about the possibility of such an escalation of violence in the Middle East because of the “accelerating illegal colonization which hampers the viability of a Palestinian state every day.”

“We have condemned all the attacks. This confirms our worries and strengthens our position that there needs to be increased mobilization from the international community to recreate a real political horizon,” the French ambassador said. “The proliferation of crises in the region should not divert us from the urgency to revive the peace process.”

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said at a press conference in Madrid that neither the US, nor Jordan, was in favor of the French proposal.

Kerry said that Jordan’s King Abdullah has a historic responsibility for “the administration of the Haram al-Sharif,” the Arabic name for the Temple Mount.

“We don’t contemplate any change, but nor does Israel; Israel understands the importance of that status quo,” he said, adding that what is needed now is “clarity” about what that means.

Clearly alluding to the French proposal, he said that neither the US, Israel, nor Jordan were “seeking outsiders or others to come in.”

Kerry said that he was working on finalizing arrangements to meet Netanyahu in Berlin, and Abbas in the region, to “find specific steps that can bring calm and stop the horrific violence and the senseless taking of lives.”

He is expected to meet Netanyahu on Thursday when the premier will be in the German capital with some of his cabinet ministers to hold their annual government-to-government meeting with their German counterparts. The trip to Berlin, already postponed once earlier this month because of the violence, will take place if the security situation in Israel allows it, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Kerry said that security will be “front and center” in his talks with Netanyahu, “but we also share a global interest in seeing the region find a way forward to avoid this kind of confrontation and senseless loss of life.”

Senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said that during his meeting with Kerry he will not offer any concessions to the Palestinians, but rather demand that the PA stop the incitement that is fueling the terror.

US ambassador Dan Shapiro, speaking at a dedication ceremony at the American Cultural Center in Jerusalem, said the US stands in true solidarity with Israel.

“Any time an open and democratic society is faced with this kind of violence and the brutal targeting of innocent civilians, sometimes the condemnations from distant capitals ring hollow,” he said.

“But I want you to know that America’s condemnation and our total rejection of terror – whether it’s rocks or knives or guns or rockets – is strong and rooted in the solidarity we feel with Israel.”

Shapiro reiterated America’s commitment to “assisting Israelis and Palestinians in finding durable solutions to the current crisis, to restoring security for people wherever they live and for renewing efforts for peace.”

He urged “all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm, including refraining from giving voice to accusations or inflammatory rhetoric that could incite people to violence or leave people to take the law into their own hands.”

David Brinn and Danielle Ziri contributed to this report.

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