TEL AVIV – France formally presented Israel with its plan for a regional conference to advance the two-state solution on Tuesday, with Israel’s Foreign Ministry responding that it still supports the notion of direct negotiations with the Palestinians despite their “predisposition” to oppose peace talks.
In a Jerusalem meeting with Foreign Ministry political director Alon Ushpiz, French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnaive briefed the Israeli government on Paris’ plans, though no details have been made public.
In the meeting, Ushpiz also highlighted Palestinian “incitement to hate and violence” and called on the international community to combat this trend.
“Israel supports direct negotiations with the Palestinians but opposes any attempt to predetermine the outcome of negotiations,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.
“This principle [of talks], which has accompanied the process from its beginning, has won the support of the international community over the years and also stood as the basis for peace negotiations with Jordan and Egypt,” the statement continued.
A day before the meeting between the French and Israeli officials, a senior Palestinian Authority figure rejected the possibility of a return to the negotiating table.
The Jerusalem Post reported that during a visit to Japan, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said on Monday that the Palestinians would never resume direct talks with Israel.
Meanwhile, other Palestinian officials have said they will only support multilateral negotiations.
The French push for a peace conference was initially rejected by Israel when it was announced last month, the result of then-foreign minister Laurent Fabius’ declaration that in the event of a failure to resume negotiations, France would automatically grant recognition of Palestine.
Senior government officials said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported the idea of talks but not the ultimatum.
Fabius’ successor, Jean-Marc Ayrault, has since adopted the French initiative.
One official accompanying Netanyahu on his current visit to Berlin said Monday night that Israel believes direct negotiations are the only way to solve the conflict but the Palestinians, who know it too, are refusing to return to the negotiating table.