Netanyahu, Hollande and Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The international peace conference opening today in Paris is a “rigged” effort intended to hurt Israel and its hopes of reaching peace, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, noting for the record that Jerusalem would not be bound by any decision taken there.
“It’s a rigged conference, rigged by the Palestinians with French auspices to adopt additional anti-Israel stances. This pushes peace backward,” he said. “It’s not going to obligate us,” the prime minister declared.
Israel rejects the Paris conference, as it consistently maintains the logical principle that progress toward peace can only be made through direct, face-to-face talks between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
French President François Hollande, the initiator of this questionable gathering of some 75 countries – minus Israelis and Palestinians – said that Paris aims to enlist the support of the international community for a two-state solution, as if the conference itself would not make such a result unlikely, if not impossible.
“Peace will be achieved by Israelis and Palestinians, and nobody else. Only bilateral negotiations can succeed,” Hollande told diplomats on Thursday, volunteering the opinion that abandoning the two-state solution would undermine Israel’s security and asserting that the conference would push for “concrete solutions to help develop energy, transportation and city infrastructure to benefit Israelis and Palestinians.”
The Palestinian leadership naturally welcomes the French initiative, as it allows them to persist in advancing a delegitimization campaign aimed at undermining the world’s sole Jewish state, while refusing to negotiate with it to actually seek a solution to the conflict.
A different opinion about the international community was voiced on Wednesday by US President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. He told a Senate confirmation hearing that the resolution passed by the UN Security Council last month with the assistance of the Obama administration has hurt the prospects for peace.
“It would be akin, in many respects, to negotiating with someone who denies your right to exist,” he said.
“Why would they ever live up to any agreement if they don’t expect you to be around? Then to force one party to the table through coercion, or however you want to describe it.”
As if withholding its veto and ensuring the passage of Resolution 2334 that, explicitly, negates Israel’s rights to its homeland were not enough, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry added insult to injury by deciding to join the Paris conference, rewarding Hollande with America’s seal of approval for it.
Jerusalem is concerned that President Barack Obama – with just six days left in office – will use the conference to drive a final nail in the coffin of the so-called peace process. The scenario speculates that Kerry will urge the conference to approve a draft resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which could then be approved by the Security Council just before Obama leaves office on Friday.
A hint of this dire possibility is that, despite France’s declaration that the issue of dividing Jerusalem into two capitals would not be raised at the conference, the topic will be discussed at a last-minute meeting of senior officials before it convenes, where the parley’s concluding statement is expected to be finalized.
Conferences in Paris will not bring peace. That will only come from negotiations. For peace to happen, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas needs to first come to Jerusalem and meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The problem is that Abbas is a known rejectionist. He rejected the peace deal offered to him by Ehud Olmert in 2008 and has since remained intransigent in his refusal to even meet Netanyahu.
While France might be sincere in its desire to see peace come to the Middle East, holding a conference is misguided. Unfortunately, the more the international community supports Abbas’s unilateral diplomatic delegitimization campaign, the more stubborn he will become in his refusal to sit down for real and sincere negotiations.
Our suggestion – cancel the meeting in Paris.