Netanyahu: Israel opposes French-led peace negotiations

Published May 15th, 2016 - 02:00 GMT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AFP/Dan Balilty)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AFP/Dan Balilty)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told France's foreign minister on Sunday that Israel remains opposed to a French initiative to hold an international peace conference to resolve the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

While the Palestinians have welcomed the French effort, Israel is concerned it will be faced with foreign dictates.

It also worries that France's pledge to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in case the conference fails removes incentives for the Palestinians to compromise.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was in Israel on Sunday in a bid to change the prime minister's mind.

"I told him that the only way to advance a true peace between us and the Palestinians is by means of direct negotiations between us and them, without preconditions," Netanyahu said after their meeting in Jerusalem.

He also slammed France for having supported a UNESCO decision that did not recognize the Jewish people's ties to a disputed Jerusalem holy site known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Ayrault told the Israeli premier that the French vote had stemmed from a "misunderstanding" that would not happen again, Netanyahu said.

But the saga "casts a shadow on the fairness of any forum that France tries to convene," Netanyahu told his cabinet.

The last attempt at Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations collapsed in April 2014. Since October, a new wave of street violence - the worst in years - has plagued Israel and the Palestinian areas.

By Ofira Koopmans

© 2022 dpa GmbH

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