France postpones summit on Arab-Israeli conflict

France is again pushing off its planned Middle East summit, which is widely expected to conclude with a resolution pressuring Israel to make security concessions. 

France has postponed its proposed summit on the Arab-Israeli conflict until January, with its ambassador to the United Nations (UN) saying that conditions required to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders face-to-face are not yet in place.

Ambassador Francois Delattre said over the weekend that, after nearly a year of efforts, France will hold an international conference next month to bring together various states with an interest in the outcome of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, a subsidiary of the PLO. He emphasized that the situation today is not ripe for the restart of negotiations, after the French initially stated that the summit would be held in December.

The French diplomatic initiative entails indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, at least in the beginning, with international arbitration. The French have not hidden the fact that they expect Israel to make concessions on Jerusalem and other topics. Israel believes such concessions would hinder its security and fears that France plans to pass a resolution at the summit putting international demands for these concessions into writing.

The Palestinians have voiced support for such a diplomatic initiative.

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.

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It would be “an incentive for the Palestinians to come and not compromise,” Netanyahu warned in an earlier statement about the summit. In a phone call earlier this month with French President Francois Hollande, Netanyahu added that Israel will not take part in the international conference since it “won’t contribute to bringing peace.”

These moves occurred against the backdrop of  an international meeting hosted by France this past June. The Paris summit was attended by more than two dozen Western and Arab countries in search of a new strategy to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which have been dormant for over two years. The Israeli and Palestinian leaders were not invited to the conference, which ended with only vague statements.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News