France presents proposal for peace summit to Israel, Palestinians


JERUSALEM (JTA) — France has presented Israel and the Palestinians with a proposal for an international peace conference.

The French ambassador to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave, in a meeting Tuesday morning with the head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic office, Alon Ushpiz, disclosed details of the initiative to bring the two sides together for a conference that would include officials from the United States, Europe and the Arab countries.

The summit would be held in the summer, according to the proposal, and would launch new negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

U.S.-brokered negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, the last diplomatic process to try to solve the conflict, broke down in April 2014.

Ushpiz told the French ambassador at the meeting that Israel supports direct negotiations and opposes any attempt to predetermine the outcome of talks, Haaretz reported, citing the Foreign Ministry. Ushpiz reportedly also discussed the recent wave of Palestinian terror, as well as incitement in Palestinian media, schools and other areas.

French diplomats said the Palestinian response to the French initiative was very positive, according to Haaretz.

On Monday while visiting Japan, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the Palestinians would never again hold direct talks with Israel.

“We will never go back and sit again in a direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” he said at a news conference.

The French initiative to convene an international peace summit was first announced in a Jan. 29 speech by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the Foreign Ministry in Paris. Fabius also said in the address that if the French initiative to convene a peace conference fails, then Paris would officially recognize a Palestinian state.

Israel reacted strongly to the threat and called it “an incentive for the Palestinians to come and not compromise.”

Fabius has since resigned from his position. His successor, Jean-Marc Ayrault, is continuing with the initiative.

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