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Netanyahu Tells France’s Ayrault He Still Opposes Peace Conference | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault

JERUSALEM – While Palestinians welcomed a French initiative for an international conference that attempts to revive peace talks, Israel clearly seemed to be worried such an international forum would dictate terms for a the peace deal. This was confirmed when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told France’s foreign minister on Sunday that Israel still oppose the French proposal.

“I told him the only way to advance genuine peace between us and the Palestinians is through direct negotiations between us and them, without preconditions” the latter said in a public statement to his cabinet after meeting France’s Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Netanyahu added that if anything shall happen, other than bilateral talks, the Palestinians shall find it as an “escape hatch” through which to avoid meeting his demand that they recognize Israel as the “nation state of the Jewish people”.

Remarking that the very same argument was made by Israel in the formal response it gave last month. Meanwhile, France anticipates for an international conference to set out a peace framework for negotiations after the fail of U.S. efforts to broker a two-state deal in April 2014.

Ayrault travelled to Ramallah after the meeting with Netanyahu, in the occupied West Bank to discuss the initiative with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, noting that neither Ayrault, nor Mahmoud Abbas gave any statements to reporters.

Furthermore, an international gathering, planned for May 30 in Paris, is set to include the Middle East Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations), the Arab League, the U.N. Security Council and about 20 countries, without Israeli or Palestinian participation.

The meeting will be involved around all economic incentives and other guarantees that various countries have offered in previous years to create an agenda for a peace conference in the autumn, according to Diplomats.