Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Diplomats Relay France’s Decision to Reschedule Peace International Conference | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, left, welcomes U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris on Friday for an international meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

Paris- France’s ministry for foreign affairs decided to postpone the international conference for restoring peace to the Middle East that was meant to take place on the December 21, diplomatic source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

French President Francois is reportedly planning to hold a meeting of foreign ministers from nearly two dozen countries in Paris Dec. 21, in an effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. France held a similar conference in June; Israeli and Palestinian representatives were not invited to that gathering.

Reasons given for France’s delay were exclusive to a busy agenda withholding participating ministers from attending, added to prior holiday engagements.

Arguably, the same sources noted that a concealed reason stands behind rescheduling the conference. Mixed with United State idleness, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had relayed his frank and far from diplomatic refusal to attend the conference to Hollande.

Netanyahu also said that his government is prepared to go into direct negotiations with President of the State of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas if the international conference was to be cancelled.

“Netanyahu told Hollande if there were not an international conference in Paris, the prime minister would meet with Abbas for direct talks without preconditions….Israel will not take part in the international conference, which won’t contribute to bringing peace,” a Wednesday statement by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said.

With that, Netanyahu has directed a straight blow to the conference finishing off France’s desire to invite about fifty regional and international foreign minister, and re-open the file on the Palestinian – Israeli conflict, giving a front slot on the international agenda.

The conference was also to allow for the two-state solution sought by Israel, to remain a viable option.

Another factor that prompted suspending the conference, is the notable indifference projected by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who spent Friday and Saturday in Paris. Kerry was participating at the meeting of states supporting the Syrian opposition.

The U.S. Secretary advised France to walk away from the initiative, at least for the time being, especially that the U.S. Obama administration is coming to an end and that the new administration is still undergoing transition of power.

France has decided to postpone its international peace conference aimed at resuming talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA envoy to France said that France informed the Palestinians that the peace conference has been postponed until January 2017.

The PA envoy countered the heresy down politics ally, saying that the conference was postponed since there was not sufficient time to prepare in such a way that ensures its success, and that the postponement was unrelated to Israel’s refusal to participate.