Israel, yet again, refused to become a part of a peace conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this time initiated by France.
Palestinians, on the other hand, welcomed the proposal.
"I told him the only way to advance genuine peace between us and the Palestinians is through direct negotiations between us and them, without preconditions,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of his recent meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault.
The Israeli government reiterated its initial response to the negotiations from last month.
"I know that Netanyahu does not agree (to the French proposal)," Ayrault told reporters after his talks with the Israeli leader in Jerusalem.
However, the question remains, why doesn’t Netanyahu agree?
The Israeli leader always claims he, like all other Middle East leaders, is looking for long-lasting peace in the region. Yet, whenever there’s a chance, the smallest opportunity to become a part of a peace process, he refuses. In 2014, the same reluctant attitude by Netanyahu contributed to the collapse of United States’ efforts to broker a two-state deal.
So, what exactly is causing the hesitation? He could always attend the negotiations and back out later. Politicians do that sort of thing all the time, don’t they?
And for a politician like Netanyahu, who has a habit of retracting statements he didn’t mean to say (but said them anyway), attending a peace conference shouldn’t really be that difficult.
He once said Palestinians inspired Holocaust. He retracted the statement later. Last year, during elections, he warned Arab voter turnout is endangering the right-wing party to appease Israeli conservatives. He conveniently backtracked from that statement and apologized for it as well.
Netanyahu can easily agree to the French proposal and stall afterwards, like he always does with other stuff.
But he isn’t doing that — and this approach only goes to show his true commitment to the peace process.
Besides that, one of the main reasons Netanyahu has ignored almost all attempts towards peace negotiations is that he might have to face condemnation and criticism over his ever-expanding illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on an international forum. Inevitably, there’ll also be questions asked about the 2014 military offensive in the Gaza Strip that caused over 2,104 Palestinian deaths, according to the United Nations, including 1,462 civilians, of whom 495 were children and 253 women.
Since Netanyahu has a “lot” to answer for, it’s easy to see why he’s so reluctant (read: afraid) of facing an international platform — even if it’s just for show.