Palestinians welcome Paris peace summit declaration
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Palestinians welcome Paris peace summit declaration

As Israel credits its own efforts for softening final text, PA president says he 'respects' statement; Erekat calls Israel 'a country above the law'

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)

The Palestinians on Sunday welcomed the closing statement from the peace conference in Paris calling on both Israel and the Palestinians to restate their commitment to a peace settlement and to refrain from unilateral actions.

“It’s a message to Israel, the occupying power, to abide by international law and international humanitarian law and to end its military occupation of Palestine towards the achievement of peace and stability in the region and the world,” said senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat on Sunday night in a statement.

“It is time to stop dealing with Israel as a country above the law and to hold it accountable for its systematic violations of international law and the rights of our people,” he added.

The one-day summit came to a close on Sunday evening with a joint declaration, backed by the 70 countries, calling on Israel and the Palestinians to restate their commitment to a peace settlement and to refrain from unilateral actions.

The statement urged both sides to “officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution” and disassociate from voices that reject that goal. It also called for them not to take one-sided actions that could preclude fruitful talks.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) seen with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at the Palestinian Presidential compound in Ramallah on July 23, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) seen with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat at the Palestinian Presidential compound in Ramallah on July 23, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Erekat called upon France and other participating nations “to immediately recognize the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

“We also call upon all participating countries in today’s conference, including European countries and the United States of America, which all have continuously supported the importance of the two-state solution as the only viable solution, to recognize Palestine, in line with their recognition of Israel and their strong position to preserve the two-state solution,” he said.

Israeli officials on Sunday credited the efforts of the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry for a “significant weakening” of the text of the final joint declaration.

The Israeli officials were jubilant that “problematic passages” in a contentious recent UN Security Council resolution on the settlements were not included in the Paris document. Resolution 2334, passed on December 23, harshly condemned the settlement enterprise, declaring that it has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini (R) as they take part with other foreign ministers and representatives in a Mideast peace conference in Paris on January 15, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / bertrand GUAY)
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks with European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini (R) as they take part with other foreign ministers and representatives in a Mideast peace conference in Paris on January 15, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / bertrand GUAY)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement Sunday that “Palestine respects the Paris declaration” along with international law, international decisions, and UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

The PA president said the final joint declaration issued by the participants of the Paris peace conference “affirms” the terms of Security Council resolution, according to the PA’s official news site Wafa.

“Palestine is ready to resume negotiations on all final status issues, to create a full and lasting peace through the framework of an international mechanism and a specific timeframe along international parameters, the Madrid principles, the Arab Peace Initiative, Security Council Resolution 2334 and the Paris declaration,” he said.

“Just as Security Council Resolution No. 2334 affirmed the international and legal parameters, international decisions and the two-state solution, based on 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem, so too, the Pairs announcement affirmed all the international parameters, including the principles of international law, and rejected all the unilateral measures, settlement construction and the imposition of facts on the ground, including in Jerusalem,” Abbas said.

To follow up on the Paris conference, Abbas said he would accept the invitation of French President Francois Hollande to visit Paris “in the coming weeks.”

He added that he would welcome the French foreign minister to Ramallah, after Jean-Marc Ayrault announced his intention to visit after the conference.

The Israeli officials expressed satisfaction over the fact that no further action against Israeli settlements is planned at the Security Council. US Secretary of State John Kerry promised as much to Prime Minister Netanyahu in a phone call from Paris earlier Sunday.

Th ostensible success, the officials concluded, was the “result of harsh reactions” voiced by Israel against Resolution 2334.

Kerry said Sunday that the United States had negotiated at the Paris Middle East peace conference to prevent Israel being treated unfairly.

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with the media following the Mideast peace conference in Paris on January 15, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Alex Brandon)
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with the media following the Mideast peace conference in Paris on January 15, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / Alex Brandon)

Kerry thanked France for hosting the international conference and welcomed its final statement in favor of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But he said the positive conclusion was arrived at only after US diplomats insisted on strong language condemning Palestinian incitement and attacks on Israelis.

“We came in here and where we thought it was unbalanced and where we thought it was not expressing the kind of unity that I talked about, we fought to address it,” he said.

“We didn’t soften it. We did what was necessary to have a balanced resolution. And if you look at it, it speaks in positive ways, rather than negative, to both sides.”

Speaking to reporters after the talks, Kerry confirmed that he had spoken to Netanyahu during the Paris meeting to reassure him.

He noted that leading Arab nations had been present at the talks and had agreed to the language condemning incitement and had endorsed the US outline of a two-state solution.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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