France launches Middle East peace summit Friday morning

Summit attended by representatives from over 26 states; Hollande: We can only give guarantees that the peace will be solid, durable and internationally controlled.

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Representatives from over thirty countries travelled to Paris for the French peace summit. Also in participation were representatives of the United Nations, European Union, the Middle East Quartet and the Arab League, the first of its kind since 2007. Secretary of State John Kerry, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and EU Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini were also present at the event.

The summit was created by France to press for resumption of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians were part of the conference. Israel has been clear since the announcement of the summit that it would not support the French initiative, Prime Minister Netanyahu calling on direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority with no preconditions.

Francois Hollande opened the conference by stating “the discussion on the conditions for peace between Israelis and Palestinians must take into account the entire region,” and that the “the threats and priorities have changed. The changes make it even more urgent to find a solution to the conflict, and this regional upheaval creates new obligations for peace. We must prove it to the international community… We can only give guarantees that the peace will be solid, durable and internationally controlled.”

He stated that the responsibility lies with the Israelis and Palestinians, stating “it is down to the parties, that is to say the Israelis and the Palestinians, and to them alone to chose peace. We cannot be a substitute for the parties themselves. Our initiative aims to give them the guarantee that the peace will be solid, long-lasting and internationally monitored.”

European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, spoke to the press following the meeting, echoing Hollande, but addressing mainly the issue of settlements. She stated “The policy of settlement expansion and demolitions, violence, and incitement tells us very clearly that the perspective that Oslo opened up is seriously at risk of fading away. The policy of settlement expansion and demolitions, violence, and incitement tells us very clearly that the perspective that Oslo opened up is seriously at risk of fading away.”