Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night rejected an invitation from French President Francois Hollande to attend an international conference in Paris later this month aimed at reviving Palestine-Israel peace talks.
According to the prime minister's office, Netanyahu told Hollande on Wednesday night that Israel would "not take part in an international conference that will not contribute to achieving peace".
"If there is no international conference in Paris, the prime minister will come to meet the Palestinian president [Mahmoud Abbas] for direct talks without preconditions," the statement from Netanyahu's office read.
Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, for his part, told Anadolu Agency earlier Wednesday that the French authorities had informed the Palestinian leadership of their intention to hold the Paris conference on Dec. 21.
Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators collapsed in 2014 over Israel's refusal to release a group of Palestinian political prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so.
Since then, all attempts to revive the moribund peace process have failed, due mainly to Israel's continued insistence on building Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land.
Palestinian negotiators say such settlement-building activity must stop before a comprehensive peace deal can be reached.
By Anees Barghouti
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