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