Despite Israel's Opposition, France to Promote International Peace Summit

Negative Israeli response was predictable and its position will be taken into consideration, say French diplomatic officials.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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File photo showing French President François Hollande (right) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, shortly after Hollande arrived at Ben-Gurion airport for his first official state visit to Israel.
File photo showing French President François Hollande (right) with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, shortly after Hollande arrived at Ben-Gurion airport for his first official state visit to Israel.Credit: Reuters
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

France will not stop trying to promote its initiative to convene an international peace conference by the end of the year despite Israel's negative response to the idea, senior French diplomats told Haaretz on Monday.

"Envoy Pierre Vimont's discussion with Israeli government representatives in Jerusalem [on Monday] was sincere and difficult," the French diplomats said.

"The negative Israeli response was predictable, and we will take Israel's position into consideration. However, we plan to carry on promoting our peace initiative."

Earlier on Monday, the French envoy met with National Security Adviser Jacob Nagel and senior envoy Isaac Molho, who stressed to him that Israel remains opposed to the French initiative to hold an international peace conference in Paris, and that it wouldn’t attend such an event if held against Israel's wishes.

During the meeting, Vimont presented the updated French agenda aimed at convening an international conference by year's end. Vimont updated Nagel and Molho about his dealings with various countries and active working groups established after foreign ministers' met in June as part of the initiative.

"Nagel and Molho clearly and unequivocally stressed to the French envoy Israel's position that genuine advancement of the peace process and reaching an agreement will only come through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," the Prime Minister's Office stated. "All other initiatives only distance peace in the region."

The Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, urged France to pursue its plan to convene an international peace conference despite Israel’s objections.

“Israel should not be given the chance to sabotage such an international initiative,” read a statement from Palestinian Authority's former chief negotiator Saeb Erekat after his and President Mahmoud Abbas’s meeting with French envoy Pierre Vimont in Ramallah.

“We have encouraged France to go ahead with its initiative and supported its efforts to have a multilateral conference before the end of the year. Palestine will continue to engage with its various partners in order to move towards that end,” Erekat said.

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