Netanyahu to meet with French Foreign Minister in Jerusalem

Meeting to center on French initiative to renew peace process between Israel and the PA; Israel has already rejected the initiative, Netanyahu calls for direct talks as only means of renewed negotiations

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France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday, the meeting centered on an international peace conference France will host later this year. The conference is to be attended by international foreign ministers with the goal of resuming peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Following the announcement of the international conference at the end of April, Israel rejected France’s peace initiative on the grounds that it would further distance direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Speaking ahead of his meeting with the French Foreign Minister, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s stance, stating “Direct talks are not only the most logical and best way to get to peace, they are ultimately the only way to achieve a lasting peace. Israelis and Palestinians deserve nothing less.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has several times over the past few months called for renewed talks and a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, reportedly supports the French initiative. On Thursday, United States Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Abbas, reports claiming Abbas not only supports the effort, but also called on Washington to give its full support.

In late January, Ayrault’s predecessor Laurant Fabius warned that if the French initiative were unsuccessful, France would recognize a Palestinian state. He stated, “If this attempt to achieve a negotiated solution reaches a dead end, we will take responsibility and recognize the Palestinian state.”