Delegates from 70 countries convened in Paris to attend a summit that Israel says will have only a negative effect on chances for peace with the Palestinians.
Delegates from 70 countries convened in Paris on Sunday to attend a Mideast conference with the objective of exerting pressure on Israel to making concessions to the Palestinians towards the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The French diplomatic initiative entails indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, at least in the beginning, with international arbitration and a resolution to pressure Israel into concessions that could hinder its security.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected the French initiative, saying that such moves allow the Palestinians to avoid direct negotiations, thereby making peace more remote.
Sources in Jerusalem stressed that if the countries gathering in the French capital were truly interested in advancing the peace process, they would pressure Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas to respond to Netanyahu’s invitation to open and direct talks.
Netanyahu will not attend the summit, nor will any Israeli representative. Neither will Abbas be there, although initially he stated that he would. He reportedly spoke by phone on Thursday night with French President Francois Hollande and agreed to meet in two weeks’ time in Paris.
Conference participants are expected to call for the establishment of a Palestinian state as the “only way” to ensure peace. According to a draft statement obtained by AP, the conference will urge Israel and the Palestinians “to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution.”
No real outcome is expected from the summit.
Last June, France hosted an international meeting – attended by more than two dozen Western and Arab countries – searching for a new strategy to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which have been all but dead for over two years. The Israeli and Palestinian leaders were not invited, and the conference ended with only vague statements.
Hollande has cautioned that if President-elect Donald Trump fulfills the pledges he made during the elections campaign regarding Israel, including his statements of support for Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, the international community will be limited in its ability to reach a solution.
A ‘Puppet Show’ with No Effect
Israeli ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Danny Danon warned that the Paris summit may be the precursor to another anti-Israel resolution to be introduced at the Security Council. “This conference constitutes a reward to the Palestinians for continuing to avoid negotiations while promoting terrorism,” Danon stated.
Regarding the Security Council (UNSC) meeting scheduled for two days after the conference, Danon noted, “We are witnessing an attempt to promote a last-minute initiative before the new US administration takes office. Supporters of the Palestinians are looking for further anti-Israel measures.”
Danon’s comments come amid concerns that pro-Palestinian elements may attempt to promote additional anti-Israel initiatives in the Security Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, based on the closing statements of the Paris conference. Last month, the UNSC voted in an anti-Israel resolution, in which the US abstained, to condemn Israeli communities in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, calling them an obstacle to peace.
“The hypocrisy and the obsessive focus on Israel has reached new heights,” he said. “These one-sided initiatives not only fail in bringing us closer to peace, but they actually encourage terrorism like we saw in last week’s horrific attack in Jerusalem.”
Conference participants are expected to call for the establishment of a Palestinian state as the “only way” to ensure peace. According to a draft statement, the conference will urge Israel and the Palestinians “to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution.”
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News