Abbas welcomes France’s peace proposal

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday welcomed a French initiative to jumpstart the peace process between Israel and the PA through the convening of an international peace conference. 

Speaking at a summit of African countries in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and quoted by Haaretz, Abbas called on African nations to support the French initiative.

Vowing not to return to the negotiating table with Israel simply for the sake of negotiations, he also stated the Palestinians will not be unilaterally bound to their agreements with Israel and will not agree to temporary or interim measures, according to Haaretz

The French initiative was introduced Friday by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who also mixed in a threat, saying his country would recognize a Palestinian state if its efforts to try to break the deadlock between Israelis and Palestinians fail.

“France will engage in the coming weeks in the preparation of an international conference bringing together the parties and their main partners, American, European, Arab, notably to preserve and make happen the solution of two states,” Fabius said.

Israeli officials were not as enthusiastic about France’s proposal as Abbas, saying that they wonder "whether France will propose an international conference with ISIS, after it armed and spread terror in France?"

Another official added, "The French proposal effectively gives the Palestinians an excuse to blow up the talks and still get all they want without negotiating at all."

"This is a mistaken approach. Why should the Palestinians give up something as part of the conference, when they already know that they will get what they wanted from the beginning if no progress is made? If and when we get an invitation to the conference, we will consider whether we want to treat it with the necessary seriousness," the official told Arutz Sheva.

The United States has also questioned the proposal. A senior official in the State Department said, "America's official and clear stance is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved through direct negotiations between them, and not by unilateral steps."

He added that the U.S. will continue its attempts to seek a two-state solution, though he noted that Washington will not be pushing to renew the process at this time.

Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid also rejected the proposal, saying Israel would not go into negotiations "under threat."

Lapid added, however, that France's declaration that it would recognize Palestine if talks fall through reflects a serious deterioration in Israel's international standing.

"In the past, no member of the United Nations Security Council would have announced that it would unilaterally recognize the Palestinians without asking us first," he said, according to Haaretz.

The latest French initiative follows a move last year, when Paris introduced an initiative for a UN Security Council resolution that would force Israel into an 18-month negotiation period with the PA.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/207266

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