PA welcomes French peace initiative

The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Thursday welcomed an initiative put forward by France to hold an international Middle East peace conference, AFP reported.

France, which announced the initiative late last month, has threatened to unilaterally recognize the “State of Palestine” if its peace efforts fail.

"We definitely welcome the French initiative, we see it as a major possibility for challenging the status quo," Hossam Zomlot, an advisor to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, told reporters, according to AFP.

Zomlot, however, said the Palestinians insisted on their call for a United Nations resolution against Israeli “settlement building” ahead of any renewed peace process.

"Nothing will convince us that we should not go to the United Nations Security Council over settlements," declared Zomlot, who is a senior official in Abbas's Fatah party.

France's ambassador to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave, met Israeli officials this week to outline the initiative, which proposes setting up a support group of the permanent Security Council members, some Arab and European states and international organizations.

It would work in two stages, meeting first without the conflicting parties and then bringing them into the conference.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected the initiative earlier this week, calling it "mystifying" and counterproductive and arguing that the proposal gives Palestinians no incentive to compromise.

"It says, 'We shall hold an international conference but, if it doesn't succeed, we are deciding in advance what the consequence will be — we shall recognize a Palestinian state,'" he told reporters during a visit to Berlin.

"This of course ensures in advance that a conference will fail, because if the Palestinians know that their demands will be accepted… they don't need to do anything," he said.

Netanyahu restated his position that peace could only come through direct negotiations between the two sides.

The French initiative comes amid recognition by some key players that the “two-state solution” is not feasible, at least at the present time.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel became the latest leader to acknowledge this on Tuesday, when she said during a meeting with Netanyahu, "Now is not the time for a significant step forward [in the two-state solution]."

Previously, officials in the United States admitted that President Barack Obama recognizes that reaching a two-state solution before he leaves office is unlikely.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/208273

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