Netanyahu irked over French ultimatum of statehood for Palestine

Published January 31st, 2016 - 07:00 GMT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed frustration over a recent ultimatum by France for Palestinian statehood if efforts to renew peace efforts fail, PressTV reports.

In public remarks to his cabinet on Sunday, Netanyahu dismissed an ultimatum by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, saying the initiative would only encourage Palestinians to shun compromise.

Netanyahu criticized the French proposal as "an incentive for the Palestinians not to make any compromises."

His remarks come two days after the French minister said Paris would recognize a Palestinian state if initiatives to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict come to nothing.

Fabius told a gathering of foreign diplomats that Paris has a responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to keep up efforts to find a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"We cannot let the two-state solution disintegrate. It is our responsibility as a UN Security Council member and a power seeking peace," he said.

The top French diplomat noted that France is planning to hold an international conference in the "coming weeks" to bring together the Israeli and Palestinian sides as well as the US and some European and Arab states.

Fabius pointed out that if this last attempt at finding a solution ends in a deadlock, "we need to face our responsibilities by recognizing the Palestinian state."

Reacting to the developments, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday welcomed the French proposal, telling an African summit in Ethiopia that "the status quo cannot continue".

The Palestinians are seeking to create an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, East al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip, with East al-Quds as the capital. They are also demanding that Israel withdraw from the Palestinian lands occupied in the 1967 war. The Tel Aviv regime, however, has refused to return to the 1967 borders and is unwilling to discuss the issue of al-Quds.

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine's status at the UN from "non-member observer entity" to "non-member observer state" despite strong opposition from the Israeli regime and the US.

Palestine's flag was hoisted for the first time at the United Nations headquarters in New York in September last year.

Several nations including Britain, France, Spain, Ireland, Belgium and Portugal have symbolically recognized Palestine as a state. Sweden, however, officially recognized Palestine two years ago.

The last round of peace talks shattered in April 2014, and a deadly wave of violence gripped the occupied territories since October last year.

At least 166 Palestinians, including women and children, were killed by Israeli forces since October 2015.

Meanwhile, the United States, European Union have also issued criticisms of the Israeli regime in recent days, saying Netanyahu had gone a step too far in accusing UN Secretary of State Ban Ki-moon of giving a "tailwind to terrorism."

Ban on Wednesday repeated his harsh criticism of the Israeli regime over its failure to work toward resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.

"After nearly 50 years of occupation, after decades of waiting for the fulfillment of the Oslo promises, Palestinians are losing hope," Ban told a UN committee on Palestinian rights on Wednesday.

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