French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius plans to visit Israel next month, he announced during a radio interview Thursday.
"I will go… to Egypt, the Palestinian territories and Israel to speak to their leaders. We want the negotiations to restart between the two sides and that this negotiations is put within an international framework,” Fabius told French radio.
Fabius's announcement comes a day after Tony Blair resigned as head of the Middle East Quartet negotiating team, after eight years of leading European and US efforts to urge Israel and the Palestinian Authority to make a peace deal.
In the interview, Fabius did not say that he would be a “stand-in” for Blair, but that France was very committed to the peace process.
“We are for a two-state solution. We need to ensure Israel's security, that's obvious,” he stressed. “There is no peace and security without justice for the Palestinians, but let's be frank justice hasn't been given to the Palestinians."
According to French diplomats, France recently submitted a “working paper” to Arab countries delineating the parameters and milestones, complete with a scheduled timetable, for a relaunch of negotiations. It is not clear if France consulted with Israel on the paper.
In recent weeks, US officials, including President Barack Obama, said that Washington would “re-evaluate” its role in the Middle East negotiations, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that a two-state solution was unlikely, and that he would not support it.
Asked whether he believed Netanyahu was serious, Obama answered bluntly that "we take him at his word…so that's why we've got to evaluate what other options are available to make sure that we don't see a chaotic situation in the region.”
Netanyahu has since retracted that stance, telling European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini lastWednesday that he was indeed committed to the two-state solution.