Palestinians reject Netanyahu’s call for direct negotiations

Proving Israel’s point that the Palestinians have rejected peace overtures for years, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah again dismissed the Israeli Prime Minister’s call for direct talks anytime, anywhere.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

France has been pushing hard to proceed with its peace initiative, a summit that does not include the Israelis or the Palestinians, but Israel says 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.”

Speaking to French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the French not to let the Palestinian leadership “shirk this difficult choice. The Palestinian leadership doesn’t see the French initiative as an inducement to compromise, but rather as a way to avoid it. In fact, the Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, let slip the other day his hope for an imposed timetable, rather than a negotiated peace.”

Netanyahu has rejected the idea of an international conference, saying the longstanding conflict can be resolved only through direct negotiations, which the Palestinians have vowed never to engage in with Israel.

But Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah welcomed the French initiative and dismissed Netanyahu’s position as an attempt to buy time.

“We have to hurry. Time is passing quickly. The two-state solution is disappearing,” he said.

“Time is short,” Hamdallah said. “Netanyahu is trying to buy time… but this time he will not escape the international community.”

Valls said Tuesday that peace between Israelis and the Palestinians is also important for security in Europe.

Valls made the comments following a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart in Ramallah in an effort to promote the French initiative to restart the stalled talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We know we, as French and Europeans, we know that our own security, our own stability depends on peace, the region’s peace, peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.

France is hosting a peace conference in Paris in June, to which Israel and the Palestinians are not invited, in hopes of reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

France has suffered from a series of attacks by Islamist terrorists, and some believe that resolving the issues in Israel would somehow curb the global Muslim terror wave.