West Bank (Reuters): Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank on…
Tel avaiv: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Sunday for a more “sober” approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in dismissing a French peace initiative as only encouraging Palestinians to shun compromise.
The proposal on Friday by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius for an international peace conference was the latest sign of Western frustration over the absence of movement toward a two-state solution since the collapse of US-brokered negotiations in 2014.
Fabius said that if the French plan did not break the deadlock, Paris would recognise a Palestinian state. Such a step would raise concern in Israel that other European countries, also long opposed to its settlement-building in occupied territory, would follow suit.
In public remarks to his cabinet, Netanyahu did not explicitly reject the notion of an international conference – an aide said Israel would examine such a request once it was received – but he made clear that reported details of the plan made it a non-starter.
Netanyahu said a “threat” to recognise a Palestinian state if France’s peace efforts did not succeed, constituted “an incentive to the Palestinians to come along and not compromise”. “I assess that there will be a sobering up regarding this matter,” Netanyahu added. “In any event, we will make effort so that there is a sobering up here, and our position is very clear: We are prepared to enter direct negotiation without preconditions and without dictated terms.”
On Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the French proposal, telling an African summit in Ethiopia that “the status quo cannot continue”. But Washington responded with caution to the French move, saying it continued to prefer that Israel and the Palestinians reach an agreement on final-status issues through direct talks. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Abbas and the two discussed the French initiative and “the tense political situation in the region,” WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency reported on Sunday.
Palestinians seek a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, parts of which have been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war. Palestine has non-member observer status at the United Nations and its flag flies with those of member states at UN headquarters in New York. Sweden became the first EU member nation to recognise the Palestinian state in 2014. A total of 136 UN-member countries, mostly in Africa, Latin America and Asia, now do so.