France Denies it Dropped UN Bid on Israel-PA Talks

The French Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it does not intend to give up on its bid to advance a UN Security Council resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Haaretz reported.

The statement was released in wake of comments made a day earlier by the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, who said that France had dropped the initiative.

"We haven't given up," the French Ministry said, according to Haaretz. "We will push for a UNSC resolution on Israel-Palestine as long as it gains a consensus that would allow it to be implemented."

A spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said in the statement that for the past few months France has been making efforts to create diplomatic possibilities vis-à-vis the stalled peace process and the deteriorating situation, and that it intends to continue doing so.

"We have presented a few ideas, including international support that would help the sides restart the negotiations and define the parameters for ending the conflict," the spokesman said. "We have reached the conclusion that a Security Council resolution could help."

The statement further said that during Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius' visit to Jerusalem and Ramallah last month, he raised several ideas for promoting the peace process, including a Security Council resolution and the establishment of a framework, with regional and international participation, that would "help the sides reach the decisions necessary for peace."

Al-Malki, in an interview with Voice of Palestine radio on Tuesday, claimed France had dropped the UN initiative due to pressure from Israel and the United States.

However, senior PA officials in Ramallah later told Haaretz that al-Malki's comments were not entirely accurate, and were based more on his analysis of the updates he had received on the matter than on information from an official decision by Paris.

France has been making efforts to bring Israel and the PA back to the negotiating table for peace talks that stalled in April last year. It has so far focused with Arab states on the possible resolution that would set negotiating parameters and establish a time period, possibly 18 months, to complete talks.

International pressure has been mounting on both Israel and the PA to resume talks, but particularly on Israel.

It has been PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, however, who has continuously imposed preconditions on peace talks. He recently did so again, demanding that Israel stop construction in Judea and Samaria, release terrorist prisoners and hold talks for a period of no more than a year.

In fact, Abbas has also set preconditions for acceptance by the PA of the French proposal. He emphatically declared that the PA would only back a proposal that raises all of their demands, indicating the demand for an independent Palestinian state on the 1949 Armistice lines with the eastern part of Jerusalem as its capital, and a clear date set for the end of negotiations and implementation of PA sovereignty.

Abbas emphasized that the PA fundamentally opposes recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, reiterating his vehement rejection of the recognition that Netanyahu requested in talks.

If recognition of the Jewish state is included in the French proposal the PA will not back it, warned the PA chairman.


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