Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly to meet early next week with US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss ways to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
Israel’s Channel 2 said the meeting would take place in a European capital. The Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately confirm the meeting, saying it would “make an announcement when there is something to announce.”
The TV report said Netanyahu would tell Kerry he backs potential Egyptian-led efforts to revive negotiations, rather than the international approach being pushed by France.
Netanyahu has recently given mixed signals on the Saudi-drafted Arab Peace Initiative as a means to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, suggesting partial support for it but also calling for it to be amended.
His Foreign Ministry director-general, Dore Gold, told The Times of Israel three weeks ago that Israel believes improved ties with certain Arab states could enable subsequent progress with the Palestinians. “The conventional wisdom for the last few decades has been that a solution to the Palestinian issues will result in improved ties between Israel and the Arab world,” Gold said. “But there is a serious basis for thinking that, actually, the sequence is exactly the opposite — that by improving ties with the Arab states, we set the stage for a future breakthrough with the Palestinians.”
The European Union’s foreign ministers are to meet Monday to vote in support of the French peace initiative.
Earlier this month, representatives from 28 Arab and Western countries, the Arab League, the European Union and the United Nations met in Paris to discuss ways in which the international community could help advance the Palestinian-Israel peace process.
Neither Israeli nor Palestinian representatives were invited to attend the meeting, which aimed to lay the groundwork for a full-fledged peace conference to be held by the end of the year.
The Palestinians have welcomed the French bid, but Israel said the initiative would go down in history as having “pushed peace further away.”
Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014 amid mutual recriminations.
The official said that the overwhelming support for Paris’s proposal stems mostly from the fact that “there’s no other initiative on the table that tries to break the freeze in the peace process.”
Monday’s summit of EU foreign ministers will be the latest in France’s efforts to bring the international community together for a peace conference. Senior French envoy Pierre Vimont, tasked with shepherding the peace effort, met Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry Friday for talks on future steps he will take to prepare for a conference to revive the moribund peace process.
The Arab League said its secretary general Nabil Elaraby held similar talks with Vimont.
On Thursday, Egyptian ambassador Hazem Khairat said Cairo was willing to help create an “appropriate Palestinian environment” to facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
During a speech at the Herzliya Conference, Khairat hailed the current French peace initiative “as contributing to the framework of international action to this end.”
The ministerial meeting in Paris earlier this month, he said, “has certainly made a new step toward peace.”