Hollande to Abbas: France committed to leading peace talks
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Hollande to Abbas: France committed to leading peace talks

French president says Paris will 'spare no effort to mobilize the international community' in order to revive negotiations

French President Francois Hollande, right, welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on his arrival on July 21, 2016 at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris. (AFP File Photo/ Pool/ Stephane de Sakutin)
French President Francois Hollande, right, welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on his arrival on July 21, 2016 at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris. (AFP File Photo/ Pool/ Stephane de Sakutin)

French President Francois Hollande told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Paris on Thursday that his country is committed to leading international efforts to help secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hollande confirmed “France’s commitment to building on the momentum created” on June 3, when Paris hosted senior diplomats to work towards organizing an international conference to reboot talks by the end of the year.

The French leader “expressed his concern over the the fragile situation in the Middle East and escalating violence,” a statement from the presidency said.

“While the latest report from the Quartet shows the two-state solution is under threat by continued settlement-building, there is an urgent need to recreate a political perspective,” Hollande added.

The diplomatic Quartet — the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia — earlier this month warned that Israel’s settlement expansion and confiscation of Palestinian land were eroding the possibility of a two-state peace settlement. The Quartet also called on Palestinians to halt terror attacks and incitement to violence.

“France will spare no effort to mobilize the international community into reviving the peace process,” he said.

Peace talks have been at a complete standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

On June 3, France hosted a conference attended by top officials from 28 countries. Israelis and Palestinians were not invited. Paris said at the time that the meeting was merely the “first step” and that it would begin joint work to organize an international conference to be held by the end of the year “and which will unite the entire international community around the Israelis and Palestinians.”

The Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, speaks during a Foreign Affairs and Security Committee meeting on July 21, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
The Director-General of the Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, speaks during a Foreign Affairs and Security Committee meeting on July 21, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold told The Times of Israel Jerusalem will likely boycott a French-planned international conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Paris, if it goes ahead later this year. Such a summit would “undermine the whole peace process,” he argued.

“We weren’t invited for the first round… I doubt we’ll be there for the second one because we have been very clear about our problems with this whole French scheme,” Gold said.

The Israeli government has repeatedly made plain its opposition, arguing that international conferences serve to harden Palestinian negotiating positions and insisting that only direct bilateral talks between Israelis and Palestinians can lead to progress in the stalled peace process.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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