French again meddling in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

In what many Israelis consider to be misplaced concern, the French are working to put together a summit on the Israeli-Palestinian issue – without the Israelis or Palestinians – and will likely push Israel toward concessions that would threaten the national and security interests of the Jewish State. 

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

The French foreign minister has confirmed that Paris will host an international meeting on May 30 to try to restart peace efforts between Palestinians and Israel — even though both sides will be absent.

Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday Arab nations will be among the 20 countries present, but “for the moment there is no dialogue” between Israel and the Palestinians.

Ayrault, speaking on Europe 1 radio, said new efforts are needed because “we are witnessing desperation, and desperation leads to violence.”

France has pushed to play a larger role in Middle East peace efforts, dominated by the United States.

“I think we must unify our efforts,” Ayrault said. Still, he added without elaboration his hope that “before the end of his mandate (President Barack) Obama will take an initiative.”

The Palestinians said Thursday they strongly support the French initiative.

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Al-Malki

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Al-Malki. (MOFA)

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki, who has openly declared the Palestinians will never negotiate directly with Israel, said Palestinian and French leaders agreed during meetings in Paris a few days ago that the French initiative should move ahead and not be jeopardized “in any way” by Palestinian efforts to get the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution that would condemn Israeli settlements as an obstacle to peace.

He said the draft resolution has been given to Arab ambassadors and an Arab ministerial committee will be meeting very soon to decide when to give “the green light” to circulate the draft resolution to the 15 council members.

Malki spoke after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met the current council president, China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi.

France’s former foreign minister Laurent Fabius said in January that the government was planning to host an international conference to bring Israel and the Palestinians together along with their American, European and Arab partners in order “to make happen a two-state solution.”

If the attempt faces a deadlock, Fabius threatened, France will recognize a Palestinian state to punish Israel.

France’s Socialist government supports the idea of two states but had previously argued that it was too early for outright recognition of a Palestinian state.

French and Israeli officials did not immediately return calls for comment.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian UN ambassador, told reporters that the meeting with China’s Liu provided president Abbas “with significant information about the mood in the Security Council” for a new resolution. He said that Liu told Abbas “the mood is positive.”

Liu expressed hope “that we can do something substantive and concrete during our presidency” which ends on April 30. There will be a council meeting next week on the Israel-Palestinian issue, and he urged members and the international community to “do their very best to move the negotiated solution forward and to work to try to stop the settlement activities, the violence.”

Incentive for Palestinians Not to Compromise

The last peace negotiations, mediated by US Secretary of State John Kerry, collapsed in April 2014, and the period since has been fraught with Palestinian terrorism against innocent Israeli civilians.

Responding to reports on the French initiative in January, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the French initiative, saying Israel would not accept a process that would harm its security and force it to make concessions, while the Palestinians refuse to negotiate.

“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.”

Netanyahu said that Israel will continue to fight the French initiative, reiterating that Israel’s position “is very clear: we are prepared to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions and without dictated conditions.”

The French have long been promoting international initiatives to coerce Israel into a diplomatic process that would harm its security, including endorsing a European Union (EU) condemnation of Israeli policies.