Paris should learn from New York

The participants in the Paris summit could learn a thing or two from the governor of New York, and it would only be fair of them to heed his words of wisdom on this important matter.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (photo credit: REUTERS)
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Last Friday, the government of France hosted a summit in Paris on the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Attending this summit were dozens of foreign ministers from North America, Europe and the Arab world, as well as the president of France and the secretary-general of the United Nations.
Not invited were the governments of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and that’s like not inviting a bride and groom to their own wedding.
Israel rightfully opposed this summit from the start, saying that the only way to achieve peace is through direct negotiations between the two parties without preconditions. Indeed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that he is willing to clear his schedule to meet face-to-face with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. But instead, the PA rejected the prime minister’s offer, with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki saying earlier this year that his government “will never go back and sit again in direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.”
The Palestinians chose to instead support the idea of this Paris summit and thus bypass direct negotiations.
They did so knowing that the summit would be biased in their favor and would ignore the Israeli side to the story. And how right they were.
In the official statement that was released from the summit, there was no mention of Palestinian terrorism and incitement, no mention of two states for two peoples, and no mention of previous Palestinian rejections of Israeli peace offers. Instead, the statement only mentions the so-called “settlement activity” and “Israeli occupation.”
This biased statement clearly proves that the French government is not capable of being an honest broker in the Middle East peace process. Any honest broker would address the situation on both sides, not just on one side as this statement wrongly did. But perhaps most important of all, the statement from the summit failed to condemn, denounce or even acknowledge the ongoing Palestinian attempts to delegitimize Israel, the Jewish people and our right to self-determination in our eternal homeland.
The continued demonization of Israel didn’t cause any of the participants to raise the question of the PA’s commitment to peace. On the contrary, many of the world leaders attending this summit have actually extended support to this movement, such as Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, who said just last week that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement should be “protected by the freedom of expression.” Similarly, Irish Foreign Minister Charles Flanagan said just a few days ago that BDS “is a legitimate political viewpoint.”
These statements are troubling, and only deepen my belief that the participants in the Paris summit will be biased against Israel in this new attempt by France to bring about a solution to the conflict. Any leader who fails to call out the haters who demonize the Israeli people has no right to be involved in brokering the Middle East peace process. Rather, the mediator of this conflict should be someone who speaks out against hate speech, wherever it is. The only leader to recently take such action against the demonizers and their delegitimization campaign was New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who issued an executive order against the injustice of BDS earlier this week after which he said, “If you boycott Israel, then New York will boycott you.”
Cuomo is the first governor in all of the United States to issue such an executive order. In doing so, he is sending a clear message of truth to all those who seek to delegitimize Israel and to all those who refuse to condemn this delegitimization.
Unlike those who participated in the Paris summit, he has taken a strong stand against BDS, affirming that this movement doesn’t constitute free speech, but hate speech.
The participants in the Paris summit could learn a thing or two from the governor of New York, and it would only be fair of them to heed his words of wisdom on this important matter.
The author served as deputy foreign minister and a member of Knesset for Yisrael Beytenu.
He was ambassador to the United States from 2002 to 2006.