French FM Set to Arrive in Israel to Push Palestinian State Initiative

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault arrives to attend an EU foreign affairs council at the European Council, in Brussels, on February 15, 2016.

The Jerusalem Post reports: French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was set to arrived in Israel Saturday night to update Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on a new peace initiative his country plans to launch at the end of this month.

The brief visit comes amid a row with Jerusalem over France’s support last month for a UNESCO resolution that denied Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. Ayrault plans to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday morning before departing for China in the afternoon.

The Palestinians already have announced their support for the internationalized process, which is to begin with a ministerial meeting of some 20 countries in Paris on May 30 to be followed by a peace conference in the fall. Neither the Israelis or the Palestinians have been invited to the May ministerial meeting.

Israel has opposed the process because it believes the best way forward is for the Palestinians to resume face-to-face negotiations. Netanyahu on Thursday publicly reissued an invitation for Abbas to do so, both in his Independence Day address to the diplomatic corps and in a live chat he held on Twitter.

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