Israel rejects French peace initiative, calls for direct negotiations with Palestinians

Israel insists on direct negotiations, again rejects French peace initiative; Conference to take place in December in Paris

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Israel again rejected an invitation to participate in a French initiative for a peace conference in attempts to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The conference is due to be held in December.

Israel has been clear that it will only pursue peace talks with the Palestinians directly with no preconditions, rejecting several invitations and efforts by France and European Union states and organizations.

On Monday, Israel’s National Security Advisor and Head of the National Security Council Brig.-Gen. Jacob Nagel and one of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s envoys, Yitzchak Molcho, met with French envoy Pierre Vimont in Jerusalem, again rejecting the French initiative, as Israel has continued to do so since summer of 2016 when the peace conference was introduced.

A statement was released by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office following their meeting which stated that the Israeli envoys “clearly and unequivocally stressed to the French envoy Israel’s position that genuine advancement of the peace process and reaching an agreement will only come through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. All other initiatives only distance peace in the region. It was explained to the French envoy that Israel will not participate in any international conference convened in opposition to its position.”

The statement clarified that “promoting such a conference will make the possibility of advancing the peace process much less likely since it will allow Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] and the Palestinian Authority to continue avoiding the decision to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions. Israel is certain and expects that France will not advance a conference or process that contradicts the official position of the State of Israel.”

The European Union adopted the French peace initiative in June, then welcoming “the Joint Communiqué on the Middle East peace initiative adopted at the Ministerial meeting in Paris on 3 June 2016,” claiming that “The Council reiterates its support for a just, sustainable and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and peace and stability in the region.” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded at the time stating “Peace with the Palestinians will only be achieved through direct, bilateral negotiations with no preconditions. International conferences like the one welcomed by the European Council… drive peace further away by allowing the Palestinians to continue avoiding both direct negotiations and compromise. This is a regrettable step backwards in the pursuit of peace to which Israel remains fully committed.”