France to host new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

France to host new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process could resume this year, as France announced it would lead negotiations to end 70 years of conflict, while Israel blamed Hamas for Monday's 'suicide bombing'.
2 min read
21 April, 2016
France will host negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators [AFP]

France will host a meeting of ministers from 20 countries on 30 May to try to relaunch the Israel-Palestinian peace process, Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced on Thursday.

In an interview with four newspapers including Israel's Haaretz and pan-Arab daily al-Quds al-Arabi, the minister said however that Israel and the Palestinians would not be invited to the meeting in Paris.

French envoy Pierre Vimont has spent the past few months sounding out the opinions of officials from both sides of the political divide. He also spoke to diplomats from the Arab world, European Union, United States and Russia.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has already made sceptical remarks about peace being met.

"Can anyone explain what this initiative is about? Even the French don't know," he said.

Ayrault said the aim was to prepare an international summit which would be held in the second half of 2016 and would include the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

"The two sides are further apart than ever," Ayrault admitted. 

"There is no other solution to the conflict than establishing two states, one Israeli and the other Palestinian, living side by side in peace and safety with Jerusalem as a shared capital. We cannot do nothing. We have to act before it's too late."

He said the discussions would be based on the 2002 peace initiative. However, this was rejected by Israel at the time.

Meanwhile Israel blamed Monday's bombing of a bus which injured 20 people on Hamas.

Nineteen-year-old Abdel Hamid Abu Sorur - who was named as the attacker - was from near Bethlehem and said to be a former member of Hamas.

Hamas praised the bombing but did not claim responsibility.

But the link to the Islamist group has heightened fears that Israel might carry out further bombings in the blockaded Gaza territories Hamas controls.