Netanyahu calls for direct talks with Palestinian Authority with no preconditions

Valls on four-day visit to Israel, will meet with Abbas and PA in Ramallah Tuesday; Netanyahu: Peace is achieved through direct negotiations where the Palestinian Authority would face a historic choice: recognize a Jewish state side by side with a demilitarized Palestinian sate, or try to eliminate it.

Prime Minister Netanyahu (AP)

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls met with Prime Minister Netanyahu Monday during his four-day visit to Israel, their meeting centered on France’s push for resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians, as well as issues of security and European criticism of Israel’s settlement growth.

Following their meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu rejected France’s peace initiative, Netanyahu reemphasizing Israel’s intentions to enter direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority with no preconditions.

France will hold an international summit on June 3 to be attended by over 20 countries with the goal of an international resolution for resuming peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel has been clear that it will not support the initiative as it would distance direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

During a press conference following their meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu called for direct talks with Abbas stating “I’m willing to come to the Élysée Palace and have a one-on-one conversation with Abbas, with all issues on the table, including the settlements,” reiterating Israel’s stance that the summit will not encourage peace between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. He stated that “Peace is not achieved in international UN-style conferences, nor through international diktats that come of meetings of countries around the world sitting to decide our fate. Peace is achieved through direct negotiations where the Palestinian Authority would face a historic choice: recognize a Jewish state side by side with a demilitarized Palestinian sate, or try to eliminate it.”

Ahead of his visit to Israel, Valls stated that the French initiative is the international community “making efforts to find a way to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians based on the idea of two states with clear, viable borders, and with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.” Valls claims that the objective of the conference is to “arrive at the creation of a Palestinian state” and to allow “national aspirations to finally be realized…To say today when we will recognize the Palestinian state is to determine in advance the failure of our initiative.”

Following a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday, Rivlin stated on the French proposal “We are convinced that the only way to bring an end to this tragedy of 150 years between us and our cousins the Palestinians, is through direct negotiations. In the Middle East, there are no shortcuts. Reaching an understanding and an agreement requires direct negotiations out of mutual trust, with both sides truly wanting to live side by side in peace in this land. The Israeli people are in no doubt of your sincere and good intentions to bringing a solution to the conflict, but we are concerned that going through international channels will make redundant our demand of the Palestinian side, and the Palestinian President, to come and talk directly with us in order to find a solution, a lasting solution for peace between us and others living in this land, the Palestinians.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has claimed several times over the past two months that he is ready to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and resume peace talks. Abbas however has vocalized support for the international summit, contradictory to his calls for resuming direct talks with Israel.

Prime Minister Valls will travel to Ramallah tomorrow where he will meet with President Abbas and Palestinian officials.