Israel Rejects French Peace Bid, Saying Threat of Recognition Incentivizes Palestinians Not to Negotiate

'This is no way to negotiate,' Israeli officials say, but Palestinians 'welcome French call to end occupation.'

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. June 21, 2015.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of their meeting in Jerusalem. June 21, 2015.  AFP

Israel rejected Friday evening the new peace initiative by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. A senior Israeli official said that Fabius' threat to recognize a Palestinian state should the talks reach a dead end effectively incentivizes the Palestinians to try to see the talks end in deadlock.

"The foreign minister of France says up front that if his initiative reaches a dead end, France will recognize a Palestinian state. This statement is an incentive for the Palestinians to bring about a dead end. Negotiations cannot be held nor peace achieved in this manner."

Fabius announced Friday that France will try to convene an international peace summit in the next few weeks to renew diplomatic efforts between Israeli and the Palestinians. Fabius threatened that should the diplomatic offensive fail, France will formally recognize a Palestinian state.

The Palestinians welcome the French call "for serious international involvement towards ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967," the PLO's negotiations affairs department, led by chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, said in a statement.

French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius waves as he arrives before a meeting with the Iranian president at the Elysee Palace in Paris on January 28, 2016.
AFP

"We will be contacting France, as well as other international partners, to advance in that direction (of an international conference). We have been calling upon the international community to have an international conference for Palestine based on international law and UN resolutions," Erekat said.

Speaking in Paris at a conference of French diplomats, Fabius said "unfortunately, [Israeli] settlement construction continues. We must not let the two-state solution unravel. It is our responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council."

In December 2014, France tried to push for a UN Security Council resolution to lay down a framework for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, these efforts failed due to opposition from Israel and the U.S. on one hand, and an unwillingness of the Palestinians on the other to compromise on the exact wording of the decision in order to win final approval from the Obama administration.

In the summer of 2015, France raised the possibility of creating an international support group for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. This group met on the sidelines of the UN last September. The meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of Quartet-member nations (U.S., Russia, the EU and the UN) together with another 30 Western and Arab countries - but without Israel or the Palestinians

Since that meeting, Fabius tried to push for a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, but this effort also failed to gain traction. In the last few weeks, Fabius and other French officials held talks with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and other PA officials. The Palestinians expressed support for the creation of an international peace committee to be based on the Arab peace initiative. Fabius' comments on Friday were, in effect, the response to this Palestinian proposal.