Abbas cautiously accepts French peace-conference proposal

Erekat says that Abbas has informed French FM that if Netanyahu officially accepts the principle of the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 lines “then we will accept the [French] proposal.”

Mahmoud Abbas_521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Mahmoud Abbas_521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority on Saturday cautiously welcomed a French proposal to revive negotiations with Israel, but did not commit to attending a meeting on the matter in Paris.
PLO Executive Committee Member Saeb Erekat said that Palestinian agreement to the French initiative was conditioned on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s acceptance of the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 lines, and his agreement to halt settlement activity in the West Bank and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.
Netanyahu has refused to cede to either demand.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has informed French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé that if Netanyahu officially accepts the principle of the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 lines “then we will accept the [French] proposal,” Erekat said.
While in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Juppé earlier this week urged both governments to come to Paris to discuss ideas for a Palestinian state raised last month by US President Barack Obama – aiming to avert a showdown at the United Nations in September when Palestinians plan to see unilateral statehood.
The French proposal calls for Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to meet this month, or by early July, to talk about reviving the peace talks.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy discussed the matter with Netanyahu last month when the two met in Paris.
Juppé also advocated for the Paris meeting when he spoke with Netanyahu on Thursday.
The Prime Minister’s Office has yet to formally respond to the proposal. An Israeli government official said that the proposal for peace talks was under examination with the US.
“We are also discussing it with the Americans, because obviously America plays a major role here,” the official said.
Abbas told Reuters, “We said that in principle that this initiative is acceptable.”
The French plan “talks about President Obama’s vision ... in which he spoke about a [Palestinian] state with the 1967 borders with borders with Israel, Egypt and Jordan,” said Abbas.
Under the plan discussed with Juppé, “neither side would carry out unilateral actions,” Abbas added.
Hamas criticized Abbas for reportedly accepting the French proposal as a “mistake.”
Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel said that Abbas’s announcement was “hasty and unnecessary at this stage.” He said that in the wake of the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, Abbas should refrain from making such decisions alone.
During a Friday meeting with Juppé, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israelwould not hold peace talks with Hamas, until the organization recognizes Israel and renounces terror.
Earlier Friday, Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) told Juppe that Israel should work with France as an “international friend” that is pursuing peace.
Livni said it is a “clear and urgent Israeli interest,” and that she was “glad to hear fresh ideas from [Israel’s] friends in France.”
Juppe plans to head to Washington this coming week to discuss France’s plan with the US administration.
Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.