Interior Minister Silvan Shalom, who was appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to be in charge of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), on Thursday called for the resumption of peace talks.
Speaking at a conference of the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Shalom said, however, that “it takes two to tango” and that the PA needs to also show willingness to resume talks.
“We need to resume the negotiations with the Palestinians, even though we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, adding that Israel has publicly announced that it wants to resume the negotiations immediately but that "desire from both sides" is required to do so.
Shalom also addressed in his remarks an initiative by France to coax the sides back to the negotiations, saying it has not received the backing of both sides.
“There is currently a French initiative, which has received a cold shoulder from both parties and there are contacts, but all of those have not yet turned into negotiations,” he said.
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 a possible resolution that would set negotiating parameters and establish a time period, possibly 18 months, to complete talks.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius visited the region recently, urging the resumption of Middle East peace talks but warning that continued Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria poses a threat to a final deal.
While international pressure has been mounting on Israel to resume talks, it has been PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas 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.
Last month, Shalom urged the PA to restart peace talks with Israel without preconditions.
"If the Palestinians will be serious and sit down for real negotiations, without preconditions and without compromise, I pledge that they will find a true partner," he said at the time.