Palestinian-Israeli peace process conference to move forward next month
US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. (AFP/File)
French authorities have informed the Palestinian leadership of their determination to hold the International Meeting on the Peace Process in Paris in the second half of December, a Palestinian official told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper on Sunday.
Wassel Abu Youssef, member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's executive committee, said French officials have stressed that the peace conference will be held regardless of the position of Israel and the United States.
Youssef denied reports that France has decided not to hold the conference, stressing that the European country's "credibility was at stake".
"Many people might be uncertain [about the holding of the peace conference] in the wake of Israel's stance and the victory of Donald Trump in the United States; but honestly, France's credibility is at stake," he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Arab and Israeli media outlets have quoted western diplomatic sources as saying that Paris has decided to cancel the international meeting, which was expected to be held in late December, due to Israel's rejection to it.
Those reports were made following statements by French President Francois Hollande, in which he said that the chance of holding the Paris Peace Conference has diminished in the wake of the results of presidential elections in the United States.
Youssef said that the Palestinian Authority has not received any official notice on the cancellation of the conference, adding that diplomatic and logistic arrangements were still ongoing.
"Israel's position is not important to Palestinians," the PLO official said, adding that French envoy Pierre Vimont has informed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the conference will take place between December 20 and 25, regardless of Israel's rejection to it.
The French-led effort is one of several that have been proposed by the international community to make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Arab nations in 2002 offered to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for Israel withdrawing from the occupied territories and providing a "just" settlement for Palestinian refugees.
By Kifah Ziboun