Israel rejects French peace initiative ahead of global summit to be held in Paris

Meeting to be held with foreign ministers in Paris in May, both Israel and PA not invited; Israel rejects peace initiative as it distances from bilateral negotiations

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Israel rejected France’s peace initiative on Thursday, on the grounds that it would further distance direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

France announced that it would hold a meeting with 20 foreign ministers on May 30 to prepare for a global summit in 2016. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault confirmed on Thursday that Israel nor the Palestinian Authority would be invited.

Ayrault stated that “There is no other solution to the conflict than establishing two states, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, living side by side in peace and safety with Jerusalem as a shared capital,” calling on the international community to unite in creating a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The French initiative would be based off of the 2002 Saudi peace initiative that Israel also rejected. Referred to as the “Saudi Initiative”, it called for normalized relations between Israel and Arab States in return for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank to 1967 borders, the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem, as well as agreements made on the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Secretary of State John Kerry has reportedly endorsed the French initiative along with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas stated on the initiative “France plays an important role in efforts to establish a fair, comprehensive and durable peace in accordance with international resolutions.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office released an official rejection of the French initiative on the grounds that it distances direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The statement reads “Israel adheres to its position that the best way to a solution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is direct bilateral negotiations. Any other diplomatic initiative distances the Palestinians from the table of direct negotiations.”

Just a few weeks ago, Abbas called on direct talks and cooperation with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Abbas referred to Netanyahu as “the partner for peace” stating that he wants to see peace in his lifetime and that “I still extend a hand to Netanyahu because I believe in peace. I believe that the people of Israel want peace and that the Palestinian people want peace.” He added that “If he [Netanyahu] gives me responsibility and tells me that he believes in two-state solution and we sit around the table to talk about the two-state solution, this will give my people hope, and nobody dares to go and stab or shoot or do anything here or there.”