Ne­tanyahu still op­poses peace con­fer­ence

Pakistan Observer - - PAKISTAN OBSERVER -

JERUSALEM—Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu told France’s for­eign min­is­ter on Sun­day that Is­rael re­mained op­posed to a French ini­tia­tive for an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence to try to re­vive peace talks.

Pales­tini­ans wel­comed the pro­posal but Is­rael is con­cerned that the con­fer­ence that France seeks to hold in the au­tumn would try to dic­tate terms for a peace deal.

In pub­lic re­marks to his cab­i­net af­ter meet­ing France’s JeanMarc Ayrault, Ne­tanyahu said: “I told him the only way to ad­vance gen­uine peace between us and the Pales­tini­ans is through di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions between us and them, with­out pre­con­di­tions.”

Is­rael made the same ar­gu­ment in the for­mal re­sponse it gave last month. France hopes an in­ter­na­tional con­fer­ence would set out a frame­work for peace ne­go­ti­a­tions, af­ter U.S. ef­forts to bro­ker a two-state deal col­lapsed in April 2014. “I know that Ne­tanyahu does not agree (to the French pro­posal),” Ayrault told re­porters af­ter his talks with the Is­raeli leader in Jerusalem and a meet­ing with Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas in the oc­cu­pied West Bank.

Ayrault said France would con­tinue to pur­sue the ini­tia­tive and that its ul­ti­mate goal was for both sides to re­turn to di­rect talks, with in­ter­na­tional in­ter­ven­tion lay­ing the ground­work.

“It is very clear to us, and I said this to­day to both the prime min­is­ter and to Pres­i­dent Ab­bas, that we can­not take the place of the two par­ties,” he said at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gu­rion air­port at the end of a one-day visit to pro­mote the plan.—Reuters

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