Netanyahu still opposes peace conference
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