BERLIN — France on Tuesday formally presented Israel with its plan to convene a regional peace conference to advance the two-state solution.
In a Jerusalem meeting with Foreign Ministry political director Alon Ushpiz, French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnaive updated the Israeli government on Paris’ plans, though no further details have been released.
“Israel supports direct negotiations with the Palestinians but opposes any attempt to predetermine the outcome of negotiations,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.
The French push for new negotiations was announced several weeks ago, but was harshly rejected by Jerusalem after then- foreign minister Laurent Fabius said the talks’ failure would precipitate French recognition of Palestine.
Officials close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently in Germany, later said they supported talks, but not the ultimatum.
Nahshon said the concept of direct talks, which had guided Jerusalem in the process of signing peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt, is supported by the international community.
However, it is Ramallah that refuses to enter peace talks, he added, citing Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki who on Monday appeared to rule out any future bilateral talks.
“We will never go back and sit again in a direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” Malki said during a visit in Japan.
Palestinian officials have indicated they will only support multilateral negotiations.
A senior official in Netanyahu’s entourage to Berlin said Monday night that Israel believes direct negotiations are the only way to solve the crisis, adding that the Palestinians know it too and are therefore refusing to sit down and talk.
Netanyahu is in Berlin on Tuesday for a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and annual government-to-government consultations.
The Foreign Ministry’s Ushpiz, in his meeting with the French ambassador, also emphasized what he called Palestinian “incitement to hate and violence” and called on the international community to fight this phenomenon.
Fabius’s successor, Jean-Marc Ayrault, has apparently adopted the French initiative.