On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with France’s Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, at a meeting in Jerusalem about the proposed French Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative. Netanyahu restated his opposition to the initiative and emphasised that only direct talks with the Palestinians can bring about peace.
Earlier this year, then-Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, announced France’s intention to host an international conference with the aim of securing a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.
Netanyahu expressed his objections to this proposal in an address to the Israeli cabinet: “I told [Ayrault] that the only way to advance a true peace between us and the Palestinians is by means of direct negotiations between us and them, without preconditions”.
He continued: “Any other attempt only makes peace more remote and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch”.
Netanyahu referred to French support for a vote in April at UNESCO (the United Nation’s cultural heritage agency) rejecting the millennia-long connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount, stating that this “casts a shadow over the fairness of any summit France is trying to convene”.
A meeting between ministers of interested countries in the French proposal, but excluding Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, is scheduled for later this month.
Foreign minister Ayrault insisted that “the conference will take place”, with a goal of returning to negotations.