French Middle East peace conference delayed 

France insists on hosting a conference to discuss a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even though Israel believes the initiative removes the incentive for Palestinians to negotiate and even though the Palestinians declared they will never again negotiate directly with Israel.

France’s president said an international conference in Paris aimed at reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is being delayed to allow US Secretary of State John Kerry to attend.

The conference was initially scheduled on May 30 but Kerry cannot come on that date, Francois Hollande told Europe 1 radio without giving the new date. He suggested it will take place before the fall.

“We are going to create, with all actors and neighboring countries, the parameters which will allow Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table,” he said.

Paris plans to host a ministerial meeting of 20 countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, as a first step to discuss the peace process.

Israel and the Palestinians have not been invited.

The French foreign minister met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Sunday and said an upcoming Paris summit aimed at restarting peace talks will proceed, despite Israeli objections that direct negotiations are the only way forward.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas during his one-day visit Sunday.

“We must demonstrate that the path that we are proposing will be the one that will allow for an exit out of the extremely serious situation, the impasse which we find ourselves in. I explained to him (Netanyahu) what that means,” Ayrault said. “I will not ask him to come to the meeting, he wasn’t invited, only at a second date. So I understand his disagreements but it only convinces me of the need to do something to move this impasse,” he said, adding that he spoke “frankly” with the Israeli prime minister.

Netanyahu

PM Netanyahu. (AP/Sebastian Scheiner)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that direct negotiations, without preconditions, are the best way to reach a final agreement and that “any other attempt only makes peace more remote and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch to avoid confronting the root of the conflict.”

“They simply avoid negotiating with us as part of their desire to avoid resolving the root of the conflict, which is recognizing the national state of the Jewish People, i.e. the State of Israel,” he said.

The Palestinians, who have declared they will never again negotiate directly with Israel, welcomed the French proposal.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, an adviser to the Palestinian president said: “The French and Arab efforts are ongoing and are quickly on the right track to hold the international peace conference.”

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, mediated by the US, collapsed in 2014.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff