Six foreign ministers headed to Israel
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Six foreign ministers headed to Israel

As France readies ‘imposed peace’ push at UN, battery of foreign officials to hold meetings in Jerusalem, Ramallah

(L-R) High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Canadian Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, US Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida pose for a family picture during a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Luebeck, northern Germany, on April 15, 2015. (John Macdougall)
(L-R) High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni, Canadian Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, US Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida pose for a family picture during a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Luebeck, northern Germany, on April 15, 2015. (John Macdougall)

Six foreign ministers will be visiting Israel in the coming weeks as international efforts to resume peace talks ramp up.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is slated to visit Israel on Sunday, followed later in the week by Canada’s Rob Nicholson and New Zealand’s Murray McCully, the Ynet news site reported. Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna will visit next weekend, and in June France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and Cyprus’s President Nicos Anastasiades are expected to follow.

The directors-general of four East European foreign ministers, those of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, will also be in Israel next week.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was in Israel this week for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials.

The battery of visits are being interpreted by Israeli media as reflecting a widespread desire in the international community to see a resumption of peace negotiations stalled since 2014.

They also mark a push to “internationalize” the peace efforts, moving from bilateral talks that many diplomats feel are unlikely to bear fruit to a broader international negotiating framework, and expanding the involvement of countries other the the United States in the peace negotiations.

On Thursday, France’s Fabius made the purpose of his visit explicit, saying he would visit Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian territories before the end of June in order to try to push French proposals for the relaunch of peace negotiations.

“France has made proposals and are going to continue [to do so]. I will go back by the end of the month [June],” Fabius said in a statement on France Inter Radio.

“I will be explaining with the leaders of the countries and territories that we want to resume negotiations between the two parties but that these negotiations would be defined by an international framework.”

Paris is trying to push a draft UN resolution which would revive the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that have been frozen since the failure of a US-mediated effort last spring, setting a timetable for an agreement.

France’s upcoming bid at the UN sets a timetable of 18 months for a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and threatens French recognition of a Palestinian state should negotiations fail, newspaper Le Figaro reported last week

The document being formulated by Fabius says the sovereignty of the demilitarized Palestinian state must be guaranteed, with a gradual Israeli pullout from Palestinian territory. It also says Israel’s security concerns must be addressed, and any Palestinian arms buildup or terrorist activity prevented.

The resolution also states that a “just, balanced and realistic solution” to the issue of Palestinian refugees must be found, based chiefly on a mechanism of compensation to those displaced. It also reportedly references Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish nation, a stipulation that has so far been rejected by Palestinian leadership.

The draft, still in discussion, would “define the parameters and the timetable for negotiations, mobilizing the international community to facilitate the two parties to a conclusion,” Fabius said in a speech before students in Paris on May 20.

“France is trying to reverse the entire game and place the result ahead of the process,” Joseph Bahout, formerly of the French Foreign Ministry’s Policy Planning Division, wrote on Tuesday. “It also seeks to place the ball in the UN Security Council’s court in hopes that ‘imposed peace’ will be a game changer” in resolving the conflict.

“We are in favor of a two-state solution because one has to ensure the security of Israel, but there can be no security nor peace without justice,” he said.

France’s chief diplomat has already come three times to the region since taking office in 2012, including twice during the war between Israel and Hamas last summer.

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