Washington Post editorial: Paris summit is start of diplomatic pushback against Israel
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Washington Post editorial: Paris summit is start of diplomatic pushback against Israel

Column accuses PM Netanyahu, new Defense Minister Liberman of insincerity in statements supporting two-state solution

Then US President Barack Obama, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on November 9, 2015. (AFP/Saul Loeb)
Then US President Barack Obama, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on November 9, 2015. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

France’s peace initiative heralds a serious diplomatic threat for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Washington Post said in an editorial.

According to the piece published Wednesday evening on the newspaper’s website, the peace summit set to begin Friday in Paris without Palestinian or Israeli participation marks the beginning of a multilateral effort to formulate a plan for Palestinian statehood by Western powers, including the United States.

US President Barack Obama, the editorial reads, “is said to be weighing whether to support a UN Security Council resolution later this year spelling out terms for a two-state solution” – a move Israel has long resisted, worrying that it would produce results it found unacceptable.

Israel opposes the premise of the Paris summit — a gathering of foreign ministers from Western and Arab countries — saying direct bilateral talks are the only way forward in the peace process. Netanyahu has urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to meet him in Paris for direct negotiations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and incoming Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (left) hold a press conference in the Knesset on Monday, May 30, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (left) hold a press conference in the Knesset on Monday, May 30, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Amid growing polarization in Israel society, the editorial says, Netanyahu elected to veer to the right by appointing Avigdor Liberman as defense minister in a deal with his right-wing Yisrael Beytenu party, which broadened Netanyahu’s coalition.

The Post described Liberman as a “hard-line nationalist with an abysmal international reputation” who is unlikely to help reduce international pressure on Israel.

Netanyahu and Liberman’s statements this week in support of a Palestinian state and parts of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative appeared to be “an effort to mitigate the diplomatic damage” heading Israel’s way, according to the editorial.

But such “rhetorical gestures are unlikely to reduce the international pressure unless accompanied by actions,” the writers continued, adding that declaring a freeze on construction in settlements “would be a good start.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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