France Wants Mideast Confab

France Wants Mideast ConfabFrance Wants Mideast Confab

France said it wants to organize an international conference before the end of the year to present Israelis and Palestinians with a package of incentives if they reach a peace agreement.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said at a briefing on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting that “this week must be a moment of political mobilization that we can reach that goal”.

Ayrault’s push for an international conference in France follows an announcement by Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Sept. 8 that Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed “in principle” to meet in Moscow for talks, AP reported.

But the wide gaps between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas raise doubts about the prospect for any meeting, and if there is one whether they would make any progress.

Abbas demands that Israel halt all settlement construction in east Beit-ul-Moqaddas and the West Bank, and release about two dozen Palestinian prisoners before any meeting. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects the preconditions.

Ayrault said several countries, including Egypt, Russia and the United States, are trying to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinians. He said he told them that “all efforts are in fact complementary of the French initiative.”

A statement from Secretary of State John Kerry’s office said Kerry met Abbas in New York to discuss “our shared goal of a two-state solution.”