While the Palestinians welcomed the now postponed May 30 conference in Paris, France, to talk about peace terms, the Israeli prime minister’s office rejected the initiative, saying a solution could only be reached through bilateral relations.
During his meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him "…the only way to advance genuine peace between us and the Palestinians is through direct negotiations between us and them, without preconditions.”
Ayrault holds the French plan will advance regardless of Israel’s rejection.
Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to the U.K., had more to add to Israel’s denial to participate in the peace initiative when he declared that there is no Palestinian partner for a peace deal.
He also stated that the Israeli prime minister was clear in his support for “two states for two peoples,” with Israel living “in security” with a Palestinian state that “recognizes a Jewish state.”
“But do we have a Palestinian partner? Up until now, sadly, we haven’t,” he added.
Regev repeated the Israeli government’s insistence that any peace agreement would have to include the Palestinians’ recognition of “the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination in part of our historic homeland.”
Netanyahu not only refused to participate in the Middle East peace initiative, but also questioned its impartiality.
He blames the Palestinians for rejecting direct talks.
“I told him [Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault] that the only way to advance true peace between us and the Palestinians is through direct talks, without preconditions,” the premier said. “Any other attempt just distances peace and gives Palestinians a means of evading dealing with the root of the conflict, which is not recognizing the State of Israel.”
“We wish France and its efforts success because the French efforts are the only ones on the ground now, and could eventually result in giving the political process a good push forward at this stage,” said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Malki.
Another country reluctant to welcome France’s peace initiative is none other than United States.
"We remain concerned about the continued violence on the ground and we welcome all ideas on moving this forward," American spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said. "On this specific conference, on the May 30 event, no decision's been made on participation."
"We still remain in consultation with the French and other international partners on it," she added.
It may just be that America doesn’t want anyone to take the peace initiative away from them, but such reluctance harms an apparently well-intentioned peace proposal.
“We are on a slippery slope to an ugly, one-state reality,” said Yossi Alpher, analyst and author of “No End of Conflict; Rethinking Israel-Palestine.”
He believes the nationalist Israeli camp, by expanding its settlements and gobbling up land, is making it impossible for any arrangement that would be palatable to the Palestinian side and to him. The prospects for peace in the region look bleak.
His belief resonates with harsh reality. After all, French President Francois Hollande did end up postponing the conference.
"John Kerry cannot come on May 30. It's postponed, it will take place, it will take place in the course of the summer," the French premier said in an interview.
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