French presents proposal for international peace conference to Israel

JERUSALEM (JTA) — France has presented Israel and the Palestinians with a proposal for an international peace conference.

French Ambassador to Israel Patrick Maisonnave met Tuesday morning with the head of the Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic office Alon Ushpiz.  During the meeting, Maisonnave disclosed details of the French initiative to bring Israel and the Palestinians together for an international peace conference including officials from the United States, Europe and the Arab countries.

U.S.-brokered negotiations between the two sides, the last diplomatic process to try to solve the conflict, broke down in April 2014.

Ushpiz told the French ambassador during Tuesday morning’s meeting that Israel supports direct negotiations and opposes any attempt to predetermine the outcome of negotiations, Haaretz reported, citing the Foreign Ministry. Ushpiz reportedly also discussed the recent wave of Palestinian terror, as well as incitement in Palestinian media, schools and other areas.

The French initiative to convene an international peace summit was first announced on January 29 in a speech by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the foreign ministry in Paris.

Fabius also said then that if the French initiative to convene a peace conference fails, then Paris would officially recognize a Palestinian state. Israel reacted strongly to the threat and called it “an incentive for the Palestinians to come and not compromise.”

Fabius has since resigned from his position, and was replaced by Jean-Marc Ayrault, who is continuing with the initiative.

The international summit would be held in the summer, according to the proposal, and would kick off new negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

On Monday on a visit to Japan, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the Palestinians would never again hold direct talks with Israel.

“We will never go back and sit again in a direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” he said during a news conference.

French diplomats said the Palestinian response to the French initiative was very positive, according to Haaretz.

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