The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki said Tuesday that a French diplomatic bid to advance a United Nations resolution to restart the peace process between Israel and the PA has been abandoned by France, Haaretz reports.
However, senior PA officials in Ramallah later told the newspaper 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 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.
Al-Maliki told the Voice of Palestine radio station in an interview Tuesday said that "the French initiative to put forward a UN Security Council resolution based on the two-state solution and renewing peace talks is no longer topping the agenda of French leadership and they have withdrawn [from the idea]."
He further claimed that the French change of heart was a result of pressure by Israel and the United States, with the latter reportedly saying that it should remain off the diplomatic docket until a deal is reached with Iran.
Instead, al-Malki claimed, the French were now attempting to save face and by putting forward a new proposal calling for the formation of a committee to oversee the renewal of talks. He promptly dismissed the idea, according to Haaretz.
A senior PA official who was present at a meeting between Fabius and PA leadership during Fabius’s recent visit, rejected al-Malki's claim, telling Haaretz it was inaccurate to say that the French had rescinded their proposal.
However, the official did admit that pressure was mounting on the French.
He told Haaretz that the French initiative was still in its initial stages, adding, "The French made a proposal and suggested some ideas, and we are still learning them. We know there is pressure from Israel and from the U.S., we know that if this process will come to fruition then it won't be before September of even the end of the year when the issue with Iran is cleared."
Another PA official who spoke to Haaretz confirmed the sentiment, saying that "all clocks are now set to Tehran time – especially the Americans'."
The same official said that Israel is reluctant to renew the peace process on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, the two-state solution and a freeze in construction in Judea and Samaria, and hence "at this point, there is nothing to talk about."
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.