Netanyahu updates cabinet following meeting with French foreign minister; France to go on with international conference and press for resumed peace talks
Prime Minister Netanyahu met with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault Sunday, their meeting centered on an international peace conference France will host later this year. The conference is to be attended by international foreign ministers with the goal of resuming peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Netanyahu also addressed France’s support of a UNESCO resolution passed mid-April labeling the Western Wall as “Al-Buraq Plaza” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The executive board adopted a resolution recognizing the Jewish site by its Arab name, Haram al-Sharif or “Holy Sanctuary”, the resolution submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, and Sudan, the resolution approved by 33 states. The United States, Germany, Lithuania, Estonia, United Kingdom and the Netherlands voted against, with 17 states abstaining.
Speaking at his weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu summarized his meeting with the minister, stating “This morning, I met with the foreign minister of France. I told him that the scandalous decision passed by UNESCO with French support that did not recognize the millennia-old connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount casts a shadow on the fairness of any forum France tries to bring together. He told me that the decision stemmed from a misunderstanding and that he would personally ensure that it would not recur.”
On France’s efforts to resume peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, Netanyahu updated that “I told him that the only way to advance true peace between us and the Palestinians is via direct negotiations between us and them, without preconditions. Historical experience shows that is how we achieved peace with Egypt and that is how we achieved peace with Jordan. Any other method only pushes peace further away and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch to avoid dealing with the root of the conflict, which is their non-recognition of the State of Israel. They simply avoid negotiating with us, due to their wish to avoid recognizing Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.”
Staff of Foreign Minister Ayrault summarized the meeting releasing the statement “France is operating with complete transparency regarding everything that concerns Israel. That is the point of the foreign minister’s visit, and he is carrying out a close dialogue with his Israeli counterparts. Israel was among the first states that the French special envoy visited. We do not intend to determine what the results of the direct talks between the two sides before they happen. The problem is that currently there are no talks. The foreign minister said that the goal of the French initiative is to unite the international community behind a renewal of its commitment to a two-state solution and the creation of beneficial conditions to revive direct talks between the sides.”