Paris peace talks: countries press for two state solution in Netanyahu’s absence

Published January 15th, 2017 - 07:08 GMT
French President Francois Hollande, left, greets US Secretary of State John Kerry. (AFP/File)
French President Francois Hollande, left, greets US Secretary of State John Kerry. (AFP/File)

Representatives from more than 70 countries and organizations gathered in Paris on Sunday were expected to throw their weight behind a two-state solution in the Middle East and echo UN condemnation of Israeli settlements.

A draft declaration seen by dpa and expected to be released at the conclusion of the conference called for a "negotiated solution with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security."

The timing of the talks is highly symbolic, coming just five days before Donald Trump is to be inaugurated as US president. Some members of the US Republican party have slammed the UN over a Security Council resolution adopted in late December condemning the settlements.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who blasted the talks and refused to attend, has said that he will only consider direct negotiations with the Palestinians, and appears to be holding out for an about-turn in Middle East policy under Trump.

French President Francois Hollande, who will speak at the conference, said last week that he recognized bilateral negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians would be the way forward.

But he said the talks would be an important occasion for the international community to support a two-state solution and assist with development projects.

Forty ministers will be present at the talks, including representatives from all UN Security Council veto countries, a French diplomatic source said. US Secretrary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier were to attend.

Kerry, who recently warned that the two-state solution is in jeopardy and chastised Israeli settlements, led the last attempt to broker a peace deal. The negotiations collapsed in April 2014 after nine months of talks.

© 2021 dpa GmbH

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