PA President Abbas to French leader: 'We can resume negotiations'

“We have not rejected negotiations, as the Israelis say, but [Benjamin] Netanyahu always refused,” Abbas told reporters.

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, September 21, 2018.  (photo credit: BENOIT TESSIER /REUTERS)
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, September 21, 2018.
PARIS – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas discussed a wide range of issues with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace in Paris during a meeting on Friday.
Abbas continued from France to Ireland, before heading to New York, for the UN General Assembly.
Following the meeting, Macron’s office said the talks focused on the complicated situation of the Palestinian Authority at present, and that France reiterated its full commitment “to resume the thread of dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis and confirmed to President Abbas the willingness of France to mobilize on the diplomatic field, in order to change a situation that is no longer tenable.’’
Both leaders discussed the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with Macron urging Abbas and Hamas to fully participate at the Egypt-mediated talks in order to allow the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza and the holding of Palestinian elections in the coming months.
In the statement, Macron condemned Israel’s settlement policy ‘’which has continued and accelerated in recent months.’’ In this context, the two leaders discussed the Bedouin shantytown of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank slated by Israel for demolition. Macron reiterated the European call to Israel not to proceed with the demolition, ‘’which would constitute a very serious violation of international law.’’
Finally, Macron warned of ‘’other decisions that are dangerous for the security of all, including Israel,’’ that have jeopardized the United Nations system providing relief to Palestinian refugees.
Diplomatic sources confirmed to The Jerusalem Post after the meeting that Macron does not intend to recognize an independent Palestinian state for the moment, and that he will not make such a decision as a reaction to an action taken by any of the sides; a position he has expressed on several occasions in the past.
Macron has refused so far to engage in a new European initiative on the Middle East, stressing that he would wait for the Trump administration to publish its Mideast peace proposal first. Associates of Macron have urged both Palestinian and Israeli decision-makers not to reject off-handedly the Trump proposal, and to address it positively when presented.
About one month after the December 2017 recognition by President Donald Trump of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, President Macron sent his diplomatic adviser Aurélien Lechevallier to Ramallah to persuade the PA not to rule out the American peace plan.
On Thursday, the Élysée confirmed that Macron would meet separately with Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the UN General Assembly meeting this week. Paris has been active in recent week, alongside Turkey and Jordan, in organizing the upcoming meeting in New York of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) – the framework for donor states to the Palestinians, which will also take place on the margins of the General Assembly. This forum has become crucial for the Palestinians ever since Trump decided to slash UNRWA funds.
Macron met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last in June, in Paris. So far, no meeting has been scheduled for the two of them in New York, though according to one diplomatic source they might meet there on Tuesday, the same day Macron is expected to meet with Trump.
Macron was expected to arrive in Israel this fall for the closing of the cross-cultural season between France and Israel but canceled his visit during the summer. At the time, his office cited internal matters as the cause for the cancellation, although sources at the Élysée told the Post the decision to cancel the visit was taken on the backdrop of the weekly Gaza border demonstrations.