Representatives from over 70 countries are meeting in Paris today in order to call on Israel and the Palestinians to work together in order to achieve peace and implement a two-state solution. The summit is being held without any Israeli or Palestinians representative present.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Abbas Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News
Without Israeli and Palestinian representatives, France’s peace conference convened this morning (Sunday) in Paris. During the summit, around 70 foreign ministers from various countries are expected to call on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to commit to the two-state solution and distance themselves from officials who reject this type of agreement. Nevertheless, French officials announced today that they will not impose any decision on Israel and the Palestinians, stating that they understand that only direct negotiations will bring about peace.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault opened the conference by commenting on the UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements in the West Bank, saying that “now is the time to advance the two-state solution.” He added that the peace summit will establish the momentum for peace. Meanwhile, the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry continues to criticize the summit: “The participants in the Paris summit must call on the head of the Palestinian Authority to put an end to the discourse of hate and praise for terrorists and return to direct negotiations with Israel without any preconditions.”
The participants are expected to also send a message to US President-elect Donald Trump, who will be sworn in on Friday, according to which his plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem could harm the peace process between the sides. A senior-level French diplomat already called Trump’s promise “a unilateral decision that could lead to an escalation and tensions on the ground.”
Netanyahu commented on the Paris peace summit this morning during the weekly government meeting: “It was planned by the French and Palestinians. Its goal is to try to impose on Israel conditions that are incompatible with our national needs.”
Israeli officials called the summit “unnecessary” and said that Israel would not be bound by any decision made there. “International conferences and UN resolutions only distance peace because they encourage the Palestinians to continue to refuse to engage in direct negotiations with Israel,” they explained. “The only way to obtain peace is via direct negotiations between the two sides as was done with Egypt and Jordan.”
On Saturday, Palestinians officials said that the conference could be the last chance to implement a two-state solution.