Palestinian Authority confirms participation in French peace summit

Peace conference to be held in December despite Israel’s rejection and call for direct negotiations; PA to send delegation, rejects Israel’s demands

The Palestinian unity government formed Monday

The Palestinian Authority has confirmed that it will participate in France’s international conference aimed at resuming peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel has several times rejected invitations to participate in the French initiative for a peace conference over the past year. Israel has been clear that it will only pursue peace talks with the Palestinians directly with no preconditions, rejecting several invitations and efforts by France and European Union states and organizations.

At the beginning of November, Prime Minister Netanyahu directly rejected an invitation by France’s envoy Pierre Vimont and criticized the conference, releasing a statement the he had “clearly and unequivocally stressed to the French envoy Israel’s position that genuine advancement of the peace process and reaching an agreement will only come through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. All other initiatives only distance peace in the region. It was explained to the French envoy that Israel will not participate in any international conference convened in opposition to its position.”

Vimont stated during his visit to Jerusalem that Israel’s attendance would serve as “a perfect arena so that everyone, at last, would think that the commitment by the Israeli government to a two-state solution is genuine, sincere and deeply based and grounded in strong convictions,” however, stated himself that “The time is not right for direct talks.”

Palestinian Authority envoy and top negotiator Saeb Erekat stated on the French initiative, “We have encouraged France to go ahead with its initiative and supported its efforts to have a conference before the end of the year. Israel should not be given the chance to sabotage such an international initiative.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed participation, stating during a visit to Turkmenistan that a Palestinian delegation would participate.

The peace summit is scheduled for December of this year.