US Secretary of State John Kerry called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the Paris peace conference, promising to prevent any followup action to a resolution set to be drawn up there on Sunday, either at the confab itself or at the United Nations Security Council.
After a month of chilly ties between Washington and Jerusalem, Kerry updated Netanyahu about the steps he was taking to “soften” the text of the final communique, which was to be issued by the conference participants later in the day.
The prime minister told Kerry that the outgoing administration had already caused Israel damage last month by not vetoing UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which branded settlements illegal. No other resolution should be passed, Netanyahu said, either in New York or in Paris.
Kerry promised Netanyahu that there would not be any followup action to the Paris conference and that Washington would oppose any further political action at the Security Council.
Netanyahu unleashed a furious attack on the Obama administration after the anti-settlements resolution passed last month with the US withholding its veto. The prime minister has accused Washington of drafting and advancing the resolution, allegations the US administration has rejected.
More than 70 world diplomats gathered in Paris on Sunday to say they want peace in the Mideast — and that establishing a Palestinian state is the only way to achieve it.
While the Palestinians welcomed Sunday’s conference, Netanyahu called it “rigged” and cooked up behind Israel’s back to force it to accept conditions that were against its national interests.
US President-elect Donald Trump’s administration did not take part, and even the conference organizers weren’t expecting any breakthroughs.
As the multinational conference convened in Paris, Netanyahu again dismissed the French initiative, calling it a “pointless” endeavor that was inherently anti-Israel.
Unlike Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has welcomed the bid to reaffirm global support for a two-state solution, and will meet French President Francois Hollande in the coming weeks to be briefed on the conference outcome, diplomats said last week.
Paris officials said that Netanyahu declined a similar invitation.
Addressing representatives of 70 countries, Hollande said the world cannot impose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a lasting peace accord can only be clinched through direct talks.
Hollande also warned the international community not to forsake peace efforts as it focuses on the fight against the Islamic State, as the region cannot be stabilized without a resolution to the “oldest conflict in the Middle East.”
The French president noted in his address to diplomats that the “fight against the Islamic State has occupied the international community.”
“But how can you think that the Middle East can be stabilized if you don’t deal with its oldest conflict? The world must not resign itself to the status quo,” said the French president.
Warning that the two-state solution is “threatened” by settlements, a dwindling peace camp, and terrorism, the French president emphasized that the goal of the conference was to reaffirm the global commitment to peace rather than impose a deal.
“The two-state solution is still the objective of international community for the future. With this conference I wanted to inscribe the two-state solution on the international agenda.
We do not want to impose any solutions… as some argued to dismiss our effort,” he said, apparently referring to Netanyahu. “It can only come after direct negotiations.”
Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.