France ex­plains Mideast plan

For­eign min­is­ter shares out­lines of a pos­si­ble pro­posal to the U. N. to restart peace ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Bat­sheva So­bel­man So­bel­man is a spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent. Spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent Ma­her Abukhater in Ra­mal­lah con­trib­uted to this re­port.

JERUSALEM — French For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius held meet­ings in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Sun­day to ex­plain the out­lines of a pos­si­ble pro­posal to the United Na­tions to restart peace ne­go­ti­a­tions.

France is re­port­edly draft­ing a res­o­lu­tion that would set an 18- month timetable for Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans to agree on a twostate so­lu­tion. It would call for recog­ni­tion of Pales­tinian state­hood if the talks do not bear fruit.

Is­rael re­jects the move as an ex­ter­nal dic­tate to im­pose a so­lu­tion that does not meet its se­cu­rity needs. At the be­gin­ning of a meet­ing with Fabius in Jerusalem, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said that peace would re­sult only from di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions with no pre­con­di­tions. “It will not come from U. N. res­o­lu­tions that are sought to be im­posed from the out­side,” he said.

Ne­tanyahu de­scribed what he called the “twin foun­da­tions” of an agree­ment over a demil­i­ta­rized Pales­tinian state: Pales­tinian recog­ni­tion of Is­rael as the na­tional home­land of the Jews and “iron- clad se­cu­rity ar­range­ments.” He also said the Pales­tinian lead­er­ship has sys­tem­at­i­cally run from ne­go­ti­a­tions with Is­rael.

“I think there is no magic short­cut,” Ne­tanyahu said, adding that peace re­quires a sus­tained ef­fort. “I am ready for such an ef­fort,” he said.

In an ear­lier meet­ing with Is­raeli Pres­i­dent Reu­ven Rivlin, Fabius said his visit aimed to “bring to­gether all the threads once again, and re­turn to ne­go­ti­a­tions,” with con­cern for Is­rael’s safety. Rivlin ex­pressed con­cern that the Pales­tini­ans were try­ing to “trans­fer the conf lict to the U. N.”

Fabius, how­ever, said there was no in­ter­est in propos­ing res­o­lu­tions to the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil if they were “bound to fail or be ve­toed” and called for a gen­eral agree­ment.

An ef­fort by Fabius’ U. S. coun­ter­part, Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry, to bro­ker Mideast peace talks col­lapsed last year in a spi­ral of ten­sions that led to the war in the Gaza Strip be­tween Is­rael and the mil­i­tant group Ha­mas.

Fabius also met Sun­day with Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas in Ra­mal­lah and held a news con­fer­ence with his Pales­tinian coun­ter­part, For­eign Min­is­ter Riad Malki.

Ex­plain­ing that he came to present the French ideas to both sides, Fabius ex­pressed un­der­stand­ing of both sides’ needs.

“We want to give se­cu­rity to Is­rael and at the same time give the Pales­tini­ans their right to es­tab­lish their in­de­pen­dent state,” he said. The French min­is­ter also cau­tioned that fail­ure to achieve a so­lu­tion would bring “neg­a­tive reper­cus­sions, more vi­o­lence and terror."

Fabius said his coun­try wishes to see an “in­ter­na­tional pres­ence in the ne­go­ti­a­tions,” es­pe­cially in their f inal stages. Although there is a need for a Se­cu­rity Coun­cil de­ci­sion, he said, “it is not a goal in it­self.”

With­out go­ing into de­tails about the out­line of the French pro­posal, Malki said Ab­bas told Fabius that there was “har­mony be­tween the Pales­tinian and French ideas” and ex­pressed com­mit­ment to an out­line that could re­vive the peace process.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear when France in­tends to sub­mit the res­o­lu­tion, although re­cent re­ports sug­gested that it could be some­time af­ter the six world pow­ers con­clude a nu­clear agree­ment with Iran, set for the end of the month.

In Jerusalem, Fabius stressed his coun­try’s strong stand against any pos­si­bil­ity of Iran gain­ing a nu­clear weapon, and said France cur­rently saw “no progress” in the talks. “Of course we want to reach an agree­ment but an agree­ment has to be f irm, and we must be sure that we can check this at any mo­ment,” he told Rivlin.

Ne­tanyahu urged France to “stand firm and pre­vent a bad deal that will pave Iran’s path to the bomb.”

Thomas Coex Pool Photo

FRENCH For­eign Min­is­ter Lau­rent Fabius, left, and Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu in Jerusalem. Is­rael re­jects the idea of France’s res­o­lu­tion.

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