Paris peace summit to pave way for new talks between Palestine and Israel

Published September 6th, 2015 - 08:39 GMT

French and Palestinian government officials are set to meet in Paris later this week to discuss ways of restarting peace talks with Israel, and may also review preliminary steps towards French recognition of a Palestinian state.

While the get-together is billed as being about breathing life into the moribund negotiations with Israel, in diplomatic circles the meetings is seen as the first move toward an eventual French recognition of a Palestinian state, Israel Radio said.

Palestinian diplomats are said to be gearing up for a significant step to increasing international recognition of Palestine in the coming weeks, while also taking advantage of the upcoming UN General Assembly that starts in mid-September.

However, following his meeting between with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in June, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that France won’t propose a United Nations Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood if it is certain the United States would veto it.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also pushed for a fresh effort to reach a agreement between the two sides, inviting Arab states to join a meeting of the so-called Quartet of peacemakers — the US, European Union, Russia and UN.

Last week, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat rejected an appeal from Netanyahu, who said he was “prepared to go to Ramallah” in order to resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Erekat dismissed the prime minister’s remarks as a PR stunt, Israel Radio reported, charging that he had actively worked against a sustainable two-state solution.

Fabius was in the region earlier this year to push a French initiative that seeks a UN Security Council resolution setting a timetable of 18 months for a final status agreement, and according to French media reports, would threaten French recognition of Palestine should negotiations fail. Israel would likely vehemently oppose such a resolution.

The French proposal says the sovereignty of a future demilitarized Palestinian state must be guaranteed, with a gradual Israeli pullout from Palestinian territory. It also says Israel’s security concerns must be addressed, and any Palestinian arms buildup or terrorist activity prevented.

Two decades of talks brokered mainly by the United States have failed to produce a two-state solution. The latest peace push, led by US Secretary of State John Kerry, fell short in April 2014 after nine months of tense negotiations, and the gaps between Israeli and Palestinian positions remain vast.

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