Ne­tanyahu: Paris meet­ing is ‘rigged’ against Is­rael; coun­try won’t be bound by out­comes

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - NATIONAL & WORLD -

JERUSALEM — Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu said Thurs­day that an up­com­ing con­fer­ence in Paris aimed at re­viv­ing peace talks with the Pales­tini­ans was rigged and that Is­rael was not bound by any­thing de­cided there.

Dozens of coun­tries plan to at­tend the con­fer­ence start­ing Sun­day, where they might en­dorse an in­ter­na­tional frame­work for peace be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans. Ne­tanyahu ve­he­mently op­poses such a move, say­ing it would un­der­mine the ne­go­ti­at­ing process.

“It’s a rigged con­fer­ence, rigged by the Pales­tini­ans with French aus­pices to adopt ad­di­tional anti-Is­rael stances,” Ne­tanyahu said dur­ing a meet­ing in Jerusalem with the Nor­we­gian for­eign min­is­ter. “This pushes French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande wants to es­tab­lish sup­port for fu­ture talks. peace back­wards. It’s not go­ing to ob­li­gate us. It’s a relic of the past.”

The con­fer­ence will come days be­fore Pres­i­dent Barack Obama hands off to Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, who is ex­pected to be much more sym­pa­thetic to Ne­tanyahu’s govern­ment than the out­go­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion was.

French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande said the con­fer­ence aims to en­sure the sup­port of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity for the two-state so­lu­tion as a ref­er­ence for fu­ture di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“I can­not ac­cept the sta­tus quo, let­ting peo­ple think that the con­flict would re­solve it­self. It is not true. That is why France took the ini­tia­tive of a con­fer­ence on the Mid­dle East,” Hol­lande said in a speech to diplo­mats, adding that, ul­ti­mately, peace can be achieved only through bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions.

French diplo­mats said the tim­ing of the con­fer­ence — days be­fore Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion — is in­ten­tional and is meant to present the new pres­i­dent with a col­lec­tive in­ter­na­tional push for peace once he takes of­fice. The diplo­mats spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak to the me­dia about the event.

French au­thor­i­ties ex­pect 72 coun­tries to at­tend. Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas and Ne­tanyahu have been in­vited to France af­ter the con­fer­ence to be in­formed of its conclusions. Ne­tanyahu has de­clined the in­vi­ta­tion. Ab­bas is ex­pected to visit the French cap­i­tal at the end of the week on the side­lines of the con­fer­ence.

In re­cent years, the Pales­tini­ans have cam­paigned for the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to as­sume a greater role in re­solv­ing the con­flict. They have wel­comed the French ini­tia­tive, par­tic­u­larly in light of a new U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion widely ex­pected to side with Is­rael on many is­sues cen­tral to the con­flict.

By The As­so­ci­ated Press


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