French authorities are expecting 72 countries to attend Sunday’s Middle East peace conference in Paris — but not Israel or the Palestinians.
Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said Wednesday both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been invited to come to France after the conference to be informed of its conclusions.
Netanyahu has declined the invitation — saying only direct negotiations will produce a solution.
Abbas is expected to visit the French capital at the end of the week on the sidelines of the conference. It was unclear whether he would meet French President Francois Hollande.
Participants will include US Secretary of State John Kerry.
France wants “to restart the (negotiation) process at a moment when it has been largely abandoned,” Le Foll said.
Just weeks after the UN Security Council voted to condemn Israeli settlement building, the talks are meant to underline global support for a two-state peace deal.
Washington abstained on the UN vote rather than casting its usual veto, and last month Kerry made a major speech laying out proposed parameters of a two-state solution.
Netanyahu insists that outside powers cannot impose a settlement on Israel and the Palestinians and has called for direct talks between the parties.
Ties with the outgoing US administration have fallen to a new low after the UN Security Council abstention, but Israel is looking for a more sympathetic hearing from Donald Trump after he takes power on January 20.
That leaves Kerry with just over a week if he wants to have a lasting effect on the moribund peace process, and the French conference is one venue for that.