Israel Doubles Down on Criticism of French Peace Initiative

'Perhaps France will push for peace process with ISIS next,' says official in latest remarks rejecting peace talks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with French premier Francois Hollande at Ben Gurion International Airport in 2013.
GPO

Israel is doubling down on its criticism of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius' initiative to convene an international committee to kick start an Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

According to a senior official in Jerusalem Saturday, "Israel wonders if France will also propose an international peace committee with ISIS, an organization that sows and distributes terror in France."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that he welcomes the French initiative and as he was speaking at a summit of African countries in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, called on his African counterparts to support the move as well.

For its own reasons, the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, rejected the French initiative. "All of the diplomatic calls for a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are unacceptable and unhelpful," said Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas official.

France's Fabius announced the initiative on Friday, saying that if the new push failed, Paris would officially recognize a Palestinian state

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

Fabius noted that France hopes the international peace summit will be attended by Israelis and Palestinians, as well as other international actors like the U.S., EU states and Arab nations.

A White House spokesman also expressed reservations about the French proposal, saying that it is the American position that direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians are the preferred approach to achieving a permanent solution to the conflict. Senior officials in Washington said they refuse to speculate regarding the French peace conference proposal.