Hollande at Paris summit: Responsibility for peace lies with Israelis and Palestinians alone

"We can't do it for them," said the French President, who opened the peace summit in Paris, which is being attended by the US, Russia, the UN, the Arab League and others.
Photo credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

The International Peace Conference in Paris, whose main issue is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was kicked off Friday morning with neither Israeli nor Palestinian representatives present. French President Francois Hollande said in a speech that world powers should start playing a major role in the Middle Eastern crisis.

Hollande added that many changes have taken place in the region in recent years and should be taken into account. "The threats and priorities have changed. Nowadays there's war in Syria and in Iraq and terror in the regions. There are those who interpret this as a chance to abandon the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but I claim the opposite," Hollande said.

"This summit creates a new commitment to peace and we must prove that to the international community," he said. "Only the sides themselves can take the brave step toward peace. We can't do it for them, but only assist them and provide them with guarantees."

The conference is being attended by representatives from the United States, Russia, the European Union, the United Nations Security Council, the Arab League and about 20 other countries.

Netanyahu continues to reject the Paris summit Photo credit: Channel 2 News

US State Department officials said on Thursday that the US would not bring any specific proposal to the table, regarding renewal of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The US, they said, was going to Paris in order to "listen to ideas by France and other countries and discuss the possibilities," but has not yet decided on its role, if any, in promoting the French initiative.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly rejected the conference in Paris, calling for a direct negotiation instead.  

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