Israel and France in murky waters on peace plan

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

JERUSALEM—A top Is­raeli of­fi­cial has re­it­er­ated the coun­try’s op­po­si­tion to a French at­tempt to res­ur­rect the peace process with the Pales­tini­ans, ahead of a visit by France’s for­eign min­is­ter.

Is­raeli for­eign min­istry di­rec­tor gen­eral Dore Gold told The Jerusalem Post news­pa­per Fri­day that the French pro­posal had “many prob­lems.”

Gold cited the sup­port last month by France for a UNESCO res­o­lu­tion that, he said, “rejects the his­toric Jewish con­nec­tion to Jerusalem.”

The April 16 res­o­lu­tion by the UN’s cul­tural body con­demned Israel for re­strict­ing access of Mus­lim wor­ship­pers to the flash­point Al-Aqsa mosque com­pound, which is also sa­cred to Jews who call it the Tem­ple Mount.

In the res­o­lu­tion, the Western Wall, the holi­est site where Jews can pray, ap­pears only twice in paren­the­ses.

Dis­tort­ing his­tory: Israel ac­cused UNESCO of “dis­tort­ing his­tory” and Gold said be­cause of the vote “it should not come as a sur­prise that Israel rejects the French ini­tia­tive and the po­lit­i­cal hori­zon it as­pires to ul­ti­mately ex­pose.”

French Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls has de­scribed the word­ing of the res­o­lu­tion as “un­for­tu­nate” but in­sisted it did not change French pol­icy.

Gold also stressed that if the French ini­tia­tive in­cluded Pales­tinian recog­ni­tion of Israel as a Jewish state, it “would be a very im­por­tant fac­tor.”

But on the sub­stance, he said the ini­tia­tive would not get “us any closer to a ne­go­ti­ated so­lu­tion, and in fact makes a ne­go­ti­ated so­lu­tion more dis­tant.”

The Is­raeli govern­ment sup­ports a re­sump­tion of di­rect bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Pales­tini­ans, rather than a mul­ti­lat­eral ap­proach.

Re­vive peace talks: Paris is ex­pected to hold an in­ter­na­tional min­is­te­rial meet­ing on May 30 to try to re­vive peace talks that have been frozen since a USbro­kered ini­tia­tive col­lapsed in April 2014.

The Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans will not be in­vited to the meet­ing, which is aimed at dis­cussing ways in which in­ter­na­tional play­ers can en­cour­age peace. French For­eign Min­is­ter Jean-Marc Ayrault is sched­uled to meet Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu on Sun­day in Jerusalem be­fore trav­el­ling to Ra­mal­lah to meet Pales­tinian pres­i­dent Mah­moud Abbas.—Agen­cies

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