France seeks international Mideast conference by end of year 

Israel has pushed back against the French peace initiative since the arrangement gives the Palestinians reasons in advance not to compromise or negotiate as they are guaranteed a state no matter what.

France is pushing to organize an international conference before the end of the 2016 to present Israel and the Palestinians with a package of incentives if they reach a peace agreement.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said at a briefing on the sidelines of the United Nations’ General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting on Monday that “this week must be a moment of political mobilization that we can reach that goal.”

Ayrault’s push for an international conference in France follows an announcement by Russia’s Foreign Ministry on September 8 that Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed “in principle” to meet in Moscow for talks.

The wide gaps between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas raise doubts about the prospect for any meeting — and if there is one whether they would make any progress.

Abbas demands that Israel halt all building in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem, and release Palestinian terrorists held in Israeli prisons before any meeting. Netanyahu rejects any preconditions.

Ayrault said several countries, including Egypt, Russia and the United States, are trying to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinians. He said he told them that “all efforts are in fact complementary of the French initiative.”

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France hosted an international meeting in Paris in June attended by more than two dozen Western and Arab countries to try to come up with a new strategy for Mideast peace and revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which have been all but dead for over two years. The Israeli and Palestinian leaders were not invited. The conference ended with only vague statements.

The French diplomatic initiative, which  entails indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, at least in the beginning, with international arbitration and an international resolution to pressure Israel into concessions that could hinder its security.

Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected the French initiative, saying that such moves allow the Palestinians to avoid direct negotiations thereby making peace more remote.

“This will be an incentive for the Palestinians to come and not compromise,” Netanyahu warned.

“The substance of negotiations is compromise and the French initiative, as it has been reported, in effect gives the Palestinians in advance reasons not to do so,” the premier explained, expressing his hope that “we will see a sobering up on this issue.”

By: World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.