Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Paris conference to ask Israel and PA to commit to two states

The countries that will attend the Middle East peace conference in Paris on Sunday are expected to call on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas to publicly renew their commitment to the two-state solution, and to renounce officials in their respective governments who oppose it, Haaretz reported on Monday.

The clause is contained in an updated draft of the conference’s summary statement, a copy of which the newspaper says it has obtained.

The Paris conference, scheduled for January 15, is part of France’s initiative to relaunch the Israel-PA peace talks which have been stalled since 2014.

Israel opposes the French initiative, explaining that the only way to reach a peace agreement is through direct talks without preconditions – which the PA refuses.

Netanyahu recently told French President Francois Hollande that he would not meet Abbas as part of the French-led peace conference, but made very clear he was willing to meet Abbas "directly, without preconditions".

Despite Netanyahu’s rejection of the conference, France has chosen to move ahead with it.

Western diplomats involved in preparations for the conference noted that the clause cited by Haaretz refers both to declarations that have been made by Israeli ministers like Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, who called to remove the two-state solution from the agenda, and to senior PA and Fatah officials who have incited to violence against Israel. READ MORE