Israel Summons French Ambassador Over Paris' Support of Palestinian UN Bid

Israeli official says Jerusalem also plans to convey concern over worsening ties between the two countries since Israeli-Palestinian peace talks stalled in April.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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This United Nations photo shows the UN Security Council during a meeting to adopt a resolution on Palestinian statehood on December 30, 2014 in New York.
This United Nations photo shows the UN Security Council during a meeting to adopt a resolution on Palestinian statehood on December 30, 2014 in New York. Credit: AFP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Israel's Foreign Ministry summoned France's ambassador to Israel Patrick Maisonnave for clarifications over his country's vote in favor of the Palestinian resolution at the UN Security Council Tuesday night.

A senior Israeli official said that the meeting with the ambassador will take place on Friday with Aviv Shir-On, the Foreign Ministry's deputy director-general for Western Europe.

Also on Wednesday, National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen called his counterpart at the Elysee Palace, Jacques Audibert, and protested the French vote at the UNSC.

According to the senior Israeli official, Israel will convey to the French ambassador its disappointment and dissatisfaction over France's vote. However, Israel will relay a wider message of concern over what Jerusalem sees as a deterioration in the ties between Israel and France since peace talks with the Palestinians derailed last April.

Israel's Foreign Ministry has been closely following the deteriorating relations between the two countries, and even held a special meeting on the matter two weeks ago. A source who took part in the meeting said participants conveyed a sense that France is less attuned to Israel's positions on the Palestinian matter.

Moreover, over the past three months the Foreign Ministry has identified several incidents - events, delegations, and planned collaborations with French bodies - that were canceled in the last minute. Among these were a Paris conference of Israeli and French high-tech companies and a visit by a delegation of French lawyers in Israel.

The senior official said that in each of these cases a different reason was given, and that on the face of it they were unconnected. It is also unclear if the French government was behind the cancellations. However, the overall impression is that of deteriorating relations. "There is a sense that the French are trying to link the progress in the peace process to the promotion of bilateral ties with Israel," the official said.

In addition to these incidents, there is also the recent vote in the French parliament calling on the government to recognize the Palestinian state, as well as the French initiative to formulate a Security Council resolution setting a timetable for an Israeli Palestinian permanent peace treaty with a framework for the negotiations on the core issues such as borders and Jerusalem. The driving force between these two initiatives was French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

This initiative was received and the apparent collaboration between France and the Palestinians with hostility in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even called French President François Hollande three weeks ago, and asked him to thwart Fabius' initiatives.

"I told Hollande that I think this move is a negative one and will backfire," Netanyahu told reports after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome. "Such a move is contrary to a peace agreement, it will thwart all future negotiations and bring about an escalation," Netanyahu said. He added: "Hollande listened, and I don't want to say what he said, but I said things very clearly."

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