Abbas to meet Macron, who will likely urge him not to give up on peace
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Abbas to meet Macron, who will likely urge him not to give up on peace

Paris summit comes after French and Palestinian leaders were unable to get together on the sidelines of the World Cup final

French president Emmanuel Macron (C) welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) to the Elysee presidential palace in Paris for a meeting on December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Patrick Kovarik)
French president Emmanuel Macron (C) welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) to the Elysee presidential palace in Paris for a meeting on December 22, 2017. (AFP Photo/Patrick Kovarik)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Friday for discussions on efforts to resume peace talks.

The meeting follows an invitation by Macron to Abbas in July, when the two leaders attended the World Cup soccer final game in Moscow, where Macron’s French team beat Croatia 4-2.

According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, the two leaders intended to meet in Moscow on the sidelines of the World Cup, but France’s victory meant that Macron had to join the team in its triumphant return to Paris.

France has criticized the US administration’s policy toward the Palestinians, especially Washington’s relocation of its embassy to Jerusalem in May. But Macron has also urged Palestinian leaders in recent months to wait until the unveiling of President Donald Trump’s peace plan rather than reject it out of hand.

In January, as the Palestinian were reeling from Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital the month before, and amid speculation that he planned to move the embassy to Jerusalem within months, Macron’s foreign policy adviser Aurelien Lechevallier paid a secret visit to Ramallah to urge Abbas and other PA leaders not to give up on peace talks or rule out the Trump plan.

Lechevallier met with PA security chief Majed Faraj, longtime negotiator Saeb Erekat and other Palestinian officials.

During his meetings, Lechevallier stressed that Macron expected the PA to remain committed to nonviolence and to a two-state solution, as well as to give Trump’s peace plan a “chance.”

“Don’t reject Trump’s peace plan off the bat,” Channel 10 news quoted Lechevallier as telling Palestinian officials. “Give it a chance.”

The report said Lechevallier told the Palestinians that although they may object to the plan, they should not end their recognition of Israel in protest or tear up the Oslo Accords, which formalized the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and created the PA.

“Maybe you’re right and the plan is bad and unacceptable. But don’t blow [it] up right now,” said Lechevallier. “It would be a pity if you chucked the plan in the trash before you get it. First read it and then decide whether to say no.”

Abbas last met with Macron in December in Paris. During the visit he rejected any role for the US in the peace process. The PA leader has increasingly struck out at the US since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, calling the US peace deal, lauded by Trump as the “deal of the century,” the “slap of the century” and claiming Israel was a European “colonial project.”

Macron has been working to mollify Abbas over the past ten months, according to officials, telling him in January that “you have international support. But [you] can’t take too harsh of measures.”

Macron’s efforts to reassure Abbas have been coordinated with Trump, according to reports.

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