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Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel Rejects Mideast Peace Talks in Paris

Israel Rejects Mideast Peace Talks in Paris

Israel formally rejected France’s invitation to take part in a Middle East peace conference in Paris later this year, saying it was a distraction from the goal of direct negotiations with the Palestinians.
At a meeting in Beit-ul-Moqaddas with Israel’s acting national security adviser and prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s, diplomatic adviser, French envoy Pierre Vimont was informed that Israel wanted nothing to do with the effort to revive talks that last broke down in 2014, Al Jazeera reported.
“[They] told the French envoy in a clear and unequivocal manner that Israel’s position to promote the peace process and reach an agreement will only come through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
There was no immediate comment from Vimont, but the French Foreign Ministry said it still planned to hold the conference before the end of the year.
France has repeatedly tried to breathe new life into the peace process this year, holding a preliminary conference in June where the United Nations, European Union, United States, and major Arab countries gathered to discuss proposals without the participation of Israelis or Palestinians.
The plan was to hold a follow-up conference before the yearend with the Israelis and Palestinians involved, and see whether the two sides could be brought back to negotiations. The last US-backed talks ended in failure in April 2014.
The Palestinians have said they will attend the Paris conference if it goes ahead.
Israel, which regards the United States as the chief broker in the Middle East, has long maintained that only direct negotiations with the Palestinians can lead to peace and sees France’s efforts as a diversion.
“Any other initiative, including this one, will only distance peace from the region,” Netanyahu’s office said, adding it expected France “not to promote a conference or a process that is contrary to [our] official position..
The Palestinians say they cannot resume talks with Israel until it suspends the building of settlements on occupied land that the Palestinians seek for an independent state, and it meets previous commitments, including the release of prisoners.
While most of the so-called “final status” issues are clear to both sides, critics say there will be little chance of a breakthrough without genuine US pressure on Israel to halt settlement building.
Many analysts say the prospect of a two-state solution to end the conflict is now beyond reach, with no signs of Israel ending its nearly 50-year occupation of the West Bank and East Beit-ul-Moqaddas.

 

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