JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a French threat to recognize a Palestinian state if an international peace conference under Paris’ auspices fails is “an incentive for the Palestinians to come and not compromise.”
“We are prepared to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions and without dictated conditions,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “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.”
Netanyahu’s comments followed the announcement on Friday by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at a meeting of French diplomats in Paris that if the French initiative to convene a peace conference fails, then Paris would officially recognize a Palestinian state.
“Unfortunately, Israeli settlement construction continues. We must not let the two-state solution unravel,” Fabius reportedly said. “It is our responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.”
On Saturday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the French announcement.
The latest round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were held in April 2014 under the auspices of the United States.