Two-state solution ‘only way’
Israelis, Palestinians urged to talk
SOME 70 countries have reaffirmed that only a twostate solution could resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also warned against any unilateral steps by either side that could prejudge negotiations.
The final communique of a oneday international Middle East peace conference in Paris on Sunday shied away from explicitly criticising plans by US President-elect Donald Trump to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, but diplomats said it sent a “subliminal” message.
Trump has pledged to pursue more pro-Israeli policies and to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which would support Israel’s efforts to make the city its capital despite international objections.
Countries, including key European and Arab states, as well as the permanent members of the UN Security Council were in Paris for the conference, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected as “futile”.
Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians were represented.
The participants “call on each side… to refrain from unilateral steps that prejudge the outcome of negotiations on final-status issues, including, inter alia, on Jerusalem, borders, security and refugees which they will not recognise”, the final communique said.
A French diplomatic source said there had been tough negotiations on that paragraph. “It’s a tortuous and complicated paragraph to pass a subliminal message to the Trump administration”, the diplomat said.
The conference, which involved more than 40 foreign ministers and senior diplomats from 75 countries began in Paris on Sunday, aimed at renewing efforts to resolve the decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the two-state solution, despite the final statement issued at the end of the day being seen with satisfaction by Israeli officials as a “significantly” weakened criticism of Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The Paris conference has been welcomed by the Palestinian Authority, while the Israeli government has boycotted the summit for its exclusion of Palestinian and Israeli officials.
The Israeli prime minister has also referred to the conference as “Palestinian deceitfulness under French auspices, aimed at adopting further anti-Israeli positions”.
However, French President François Hollande assured ahead of the conference that the aim was not to replace bilateral negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, a point he confirmed during his closing remarks on Sunday evening when he said that a solution could not be imposed on either party.
“With this conference I wanted to inscribe the two-state solution on the international agenda,” Hollande said, adding, in an apparent allusion to Netanyahu that “we do not want to impose any solutions… as some argued to dismiss our efforts”.
The conference’s final communique reaffirmed that a negotiated solution with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, was the only way to achieve enduring peace.
It emphasised the importance for the parties to restate their commitment to this solution, to take urgent steps in order to reverse the current negative trends on the ground, including continued acts of violence and ongoing settlement activity, and to start meaningful direct negotiations.
It further reiterated that a negotiated two-state solution should meet the legitimate aspirations of both sides, including the Palestinians’ right to statehood and sovereignty, end the occupation that began in 1967 and satisfy Israel’s security needs.
The summit was held weeks after the UN Security Council passed a resolution reaffirming all Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory were illegal under international law.
Foreign ministers and diplomats gather around French President Francois Hollande (front row, fourth from left) at the Paris conference which pushed for renewed peace talks that would lead to a Palestinian state.