Netanyahu rejects meeting with Abbas, Hollande at Paris peace conference


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French President Francois Hollande that he would not meet with him and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at a planned international peace conference in Paris.

Netanyahu told Hollande by phone on Wednesday that Israel would not attend the conference, but that he was open to meeting with Abbas “for direct talks without preconditions” if France cancels the summit, according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office. .

The statement added that the Paris conference “will not contribute to achieving peace.”

Hollande reportedly plans to hold a meeting of foreign ministers in Paris on Dec. 21 as part of the peace initiative.

A similar meeting was held in Paris in June. Neither Israeli nor Palestinian representatives were invited.

That meeting ended with a final statement calling on the Palestinians and Israelis to demonstrate “a genuine commitment to the two-state solution in order to rebuild trust.” It also proposed an international conference to further talks by the end of the year.

Israel has dismissed the summit as doomed because it does not involve direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

The December summit, which reportedly could be delayed to Dec. 22 or Dec. 23, could include the foreign ministers of up to 50 countries, according to French news reports.

Hollande announced earlier this month that he will not run for reelection in France’s 2017 elections.

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