Netanyahu Tells Hollande: Cancel Peace Summit and I'll Meet Abbas in Paris

Prime minister refuses to meet Palestinian president as part of an international Mideast peace summit, but says will agree to direct talks if the conference is called off.

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

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Francois Hollande on Wednesday that he would agree to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but not as part of an international peace summit the French wish to convene at the end of the month.

In a phone conversation on Wednesday, the prime minister said he rejects the French invitation for a meeting with Abbas in Paris in two weeks' time, if it were to convene under the French peace initiative, following the summit of foreign ministers on December 21.

If the peace summit were to be canceled, Netanyahu told Hollande according to the Prime Minister's Bureau, the prime minister would agree to meet with Abbas for direct talks in Paris, without preconditions.

"Israel will not take part in an international summit that will not contribute to achieving peace," Netanyahu told Hollande.

Earlier Wednesday, it was reported that Hollande would like to convene a meeting of foreign ministers in Paris on December 21 to deal with the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as part of the initiative France launched at the beginning of the year. The planned summit would be a continuation of a foreign ministers' meeting on the matter that took place in Paris in June.

The French government wants to invite to the summit the foreign ministers of some 30 to 50 countries. According to the French daily Le Figaro, the summit may be rescheduled for December 22 or December 23 in order to allow more foreign ministers to participate.

According to Le Figaro, the summit is set to work on developing a joint statement calling on the preservation of the two-state solution, while mentioning the UN resolutions on the issue and the need to reach a solution based on the pre-1967 lines.

Israel already informed France several weeks ago that it opposes the foreign ministers' summit and it will not participate if it occurs. Accordingly, the French opted to hold the event without Israeli and Palestinian representatives and to invite leaders from both sides to a tripartite meeting with Hollande soon after.

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