France explains Mideast plan
Foreign minister shares outlines of a possible proposal to the U. N. to restart peace negotiations.
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.”
FRENCH Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, left, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Israel rejects the idea of France’s resolution.