France to Convene Foreign Ministers for Mideast Peace Process Summit in Paris on May 30

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will arrive in Israel after Independence Day on May 12 and will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the summit.

Hollande and Netanyahu in Paris, November 30, 2015.
Philippe Wojazer / AFP

PARIS - The French government will convene a summit in Paris on May 30 aimed at renewing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, to be attended by dozens of foreign ministers. Israeli diplomats said that France updated Israel Thursday on the conference, and invitations will be sent to participants on Friday.

The foreign ministers' meeting will occur without the participation of Israeli and Palestinian representatives, ahead of the main international peace conference that France hopes to hold in Paris over the summer.

Israeli diplomats said that in early May, senior diplomats from all participating countries will hold a preparatory meeting to discuss the foreign ministers' meet.

In recent months, French envoy Pierre Vimont has held a series of consultations with Israel, the Palestinians and a host of other countries in the European Union, the Arab world, the United States and Russia to hear their views regarding the peace conference initiative.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault arrives to attend an EU foreign affairs council at the European Council, Feb. 15, 2016.

The Palestinians are enthusiastically supportive of the convention but Israel is treating the event with exceeding suspicion. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters this week that he doesn't understand what comprises the French initiative. "Can anyone explain what this initiative is about? Even the French don't know," he said.

Israeli diplomats noted that French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will arrive in Israel after Independence Day on May 12 and will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the summit, which will take place a few days later. 

The Palestinian Authority is leaning toward freezing its effort to secure a United Nations Security Council draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, following pressure from France and other countries, a senior Palestinian figure told Haaretz.

The French government was pressing the authority to suspend the effort on the grounds that it will undermine French attempts to convene an international peace conference this summer, according to senior Israeli and Palestinian officials.

“The opportunity to go to the Security Council will always be there and we want to give a chance to the French initiative because, in the end, this is an initiative that serves us and not one that hurts us,” the Palestinian figure said.