Israel rejects French peace initiative... again

Israel rejects French peace initiative... again
France's envoy for its Middle East peace plan received a cold reception in Israel, where enthusiasm for multilateral peace talks is still lacking.
2 min read
07 November, 2016
Israel has continuously rejected international peace initiatives [Getty]

Israel has once again publically rejected a French-sponsored Middle East peace initiative, following a visit to Tel Aviv by the architect of the plan.

Pierre Vimontmet ,met with Israel's acting national security adviser Yakov Nagel and Netanyahu aide Isaac Molcho to discuss the plan.

But he was left disappointed when the latter told him in "a unambiguous and unequivocal fashion" that Israel will only participate in bilateral talks with the Palestinian Authority.

"It was made clear to the French envoy that Israel will not participate in any international conference convened contrary to its position," a statement from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu continued.

It added the Israeli officials called for "direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority" and said "any other initiative only pushes the region further away from this process". 

While the Palestinian Authority has strongly supported the French initiative, Israel has rejected it out of fear that international pressure will mount on Tel Aviv during the process.

"Promoting such a conference will make the possibility of advancing the peace process much less likely since it will allow [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and the Palestinian Authority to continue avoiding the decision to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions," the statement said.

Palestinian leaders argue that years of bilateral negotiations with the Israelis have not ended the occupation of the West Bank, and they have started to pursue an international strategy.

Peace efforts have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

The last substantial public meeting between Abbas and Netanyahu is thought to have been held in 2010, though there have been unconfirmed reports of secret meetings since then.