Hollande: only direct talks between Israelis & Palestinians can lead to peace

Jon Howard
January 16, 2017

Early on Sunday, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, dismissed the conference as "rigged" against Israel and as "one of the last twitches of yesterday's world".

Diplomats from 70 countries pose at the Mideast peace conference in Paris on Sunday.

Speaking during the event, French President Francois Hollande said the two-state solution has lately been under threat, also criticizing those who said holding such a conference was "naive".

Last June, France hosted an worldwide meeting - attended by more than two dozen Western and Arab countries - searching for a new strategy to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which have been all but dead for over two years.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have not negotiated even indirectly since a failed US -led peace effort in 2014.

The conference follows United Nations resolution last month, which decried Israel's efforts to expand its settlement on occupied territories in Jerusalem and West Bank. "Tomorrow's world will be different - and it is very near", said Netanyahu, referring to the term of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump which is scheduled to start on January 20.

"This pushes peace backwards".

The final communique of a one-day global Middle East peace conference in Paris shied away from explicitly criticizing plans by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to move the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem, although diplomats said the wording sent a "subliminal" message.

On Friday, imams at mosques in the Palestinian towns and villages of the West Bank preached against President-elect Donald Trump's promise to move the U.S. Embassy to the contested city of Jerusalem.

"The conference that is convening today in Paris is a pointless conference", he said at the start of Sunday's cabinet meeting.

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Mr Abbas will see Pope Francis and inaugurate the new Palestinian embassy to the Vatican on Saturday, before travelling to Paris.

U.S. top diplomat John Kerry is expected to appear at the Paris summit, along with Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The British government probably fears that the conference risks becoming an attempt to circumscribe USA policy on Israel before the Trump team has decided this.

"We can not have a political discussion about one or two states as long as the rights of the Palestinian people are not realized", Lahham said.

In a press release, the PM's office said it believed "only a negotiated two-state-solution will lead to an end of occupation and an agreement on all final status issues". The draft welcomes U.N. Security Council resolution 2334 "which clearly condemned settlement activity, incitement and violence".

The settlements, home to about 600,000 Israelis, are considered illegal under global law, though Israel disputes this.

According to the Guardian, this was a deliberate decision in order to "stay close to Donald Trump's administration".

Kerry told reporters in Paris the event had underlined that support for a two-state solution is "not just one administration's point of view, this is shared by the global community broadly". Hollande urged the diplomats to support peace efforts by offering economic incentives to Israelis and Palestinians.

Hotovely told CBN News Israel there is clear proof direct talks can work without interference from third parties.

Ayrault accepted that Netanyahu had changed his mind about the conference, adding that "at present the two sides seem far far removed from coming to the negotiating table".

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