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Israel Rejects International Peace Conference, Suggests Meetings with Abbas | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories from May 21-24. AFP

Paris-All propositions of the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls in his current visit to Israel did not succeed in changing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s mind regarding his rejection of the Paris plan to hold an international meeting in France’s capital on the 3rd of June.

This plan aims at relaunching a new dynamic, which targets ending the Palestinian- Israeli conflict through a political solution.

Instead of holding an international conference with the attendance of 20 countries, including the United States and other member countries, Arab countries, and International Organizations such as the U.N. and the Arab League, Netanyahu proposed talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss unresolved issues without the participation of any third party.

In fact, Netanyahu did not wait for Valls to visit Israel, for the first time as the French Prime Minister, to express his rejection for Paris’s peace initiative represented by holding an international conference in June, without the presence of the two parties involved, and another conference in the coming fall.

The first conference aims at restating peace indicators, providing international political support in order to bring the Palestinian-Israeli file to the negotiating table, and paving way for the second conference that Paris urges with the attendance of presidents and prime ministers of different countries and the two involved parties in order to keep up with talks and facilitate reaching compromises regarding thorny issues.

However, Israel has reacted coolly to France’s peace initiative as its Prime Minister stressed on Monday direct, bilateral negotiations being the only way to proceed to peace.

“I will sit alone directly with President Abbas in the Élysée Palace, or anywhere else that you choose. Every difficult issue will be on the table: mutual recognition,

incitement, borders, refugees and yes, settlements…everything,” Netanyahu said, reiterating that Israel prefers direct negotiations to an international summit.

The French initiative, which calls for an international peace conference, will not encourage peace, Netanyahu said.

“Peace just does not get achieved through international conferences, U.N.-style,” he said. “It does not get to fulfillment through international dictates or committees from countries around the world that are sitting and seeking to decide our fate and our security when they have no direct stake in it.”

He spoke of the importance of “direct negotiations” through which “the Palestinian leadership must face a stark choice and recognize the Jewish state” and warned that the French initiative, in its current state, may push Palestinians to “avoid” direct talks.

On his part, Valls said he would discuss the various options for action with French President Francois Hollande, following the meeting with Netanyahu; adding that France wishes to “recruit the international community in order to advance peace and the two-state solution.”

Valls, who presents himself as “a friend of Israel”, recalled how “the continuation of settlements ruins the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, when there is only one solution: two states for two peoples.”

Valls said that he would do all within his power “to fight against attempts to boycott Israel.”

He took a strong stand against anti-Semitism, and also spoke out against his country’s vote in favor of a UNESCO resolution that ignored Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.

Netanyahu thanked him for those efforts during their meeting.

“I know of your friendship to Israel and your commitment to Franco-Israeli relations, your stalwart position against anti-Semitism and that of Francois Hollande,” Netanyahu said.

“The reason that this UNESCO vote was so troubling for us is that it implies that the Jewish people have no right to be here. I think that remains the core of the

conflict, the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to have a nation-state in their ancestral homeland.”

I hope you encourage other nations that voted for this outrageous resolution to follow your lead and admit it was an error, and of course, the most important thing is that it doesn’t happen again,” Netanyahu added.