French President Emmanuel Macron (R) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas deliver a press statement after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, December 22, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday reiterated to visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas his disapproval of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, reaffirmed his commitment to international law, and expressed support for the relaunching of a political process to reach a sustainable peace agreement.
Speaking at a press conference, after meeting with Abbas at the Elysee Palace, Macron said, “There is no other solution than the two-state solution, and no twostate solution without an agreement by both sides on Jerusalem.”
Macron also said he told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in their December 10 meeting to make “courageous gestures,” including resuming negotiations, freezing settlement construction and preserving a diplomatic horizon.
Macron called upon all sides to demonstrate responsibility and avoid any escalation, especially in the holy sites and particularly at this time of the year.
Macron thanked Abbas for his efforts to appease the crisis, adding that France is a friend of the Palestinians and would continue to stand by their side, as it did in New York (at the UN), in Brussels (at EU headquarters) and in Istanbul (a reference to the recent summit held by the Muslim states).
Although Macron stated that he “regretted” Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, he stressed that there will be no “multiplying initiatives” and that he intends to let the American peace initiative run its course before launching any French or European plan.
However, he did say that “France and the European Union will stay engaged in efforts to accompany each of the parties in the negotiations.”
Abbas is scheduled to arrive to Brussels on January 22, which will enable the European Union to deepen its exchanges with the PA , Macron said. “I myself will visit Palestine and Israel in 2018, in order to continue our exchanges on the peace process. The [French] prime minister will also arrive to the region for the second intergovernmental seminar.”
Asked whether France would recognize Palestine as a state, Macron replied, “Deciding today to recognize Palestine, would that be efficient? I don’t think so for the moment. Because this would be a reaction to a unilateral decision, and I don’t want to base any decision by France concerning such an important subject on a reaction on the American decision on Jerusalem. We would be making a grave mistake of internationalizing a situation which we did not manage to resolve on the ground.”
Macron said that in principle, France has always advocated a two-state solution and so, by the nature of things at some point of the process, recognition would be achieved.
“At that moment, France will assume its responsibilities together with its partners to advance in that direction. But I wish to do that at the right moment, when it will be useful to achieving peace on the ground,” said Macron and added, “I will not make such a decision under pressure.”
In his comments, Macron also said he backed Palestinian reconciliation efforts and said the PA “must go back to Gaza.”
For Abbas, who was warmly received as a head of state by Macron, the meeting in Paris offered him a first opportunity to express, in a major European capital, his rejection of Trump’s Jerusalem proclamation.
He repeated his earlier statement that “the US can no longer be considered an honest broker.” He added, “We will not accept any American [peace] plan. The US has disqualified itself as an honest broker by making a decision which contradicts international law.”
After mentioning the Palestinian teenage girl Ahed Tamimi, who was arrested recently by Israel, and Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh, the wheelchair-bound double-amputee killed by Israeli forces, Abbas said, “All of our demonstrations were nonviolent. Not one bullet was shot by the Palestinians. We must continue acting in a civilized manner, without resorting to weapons.”