Fabius expected in region to push French peace initiative

French FM set to meet Netanyahu, Abbas to discuss UN resolution setting 18-month timeframe for deal

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the Maison des Océans in Paris, March 17, 2015. (AFP/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the Maison des Océans in Paris, March 17, 2015. (AFP/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is expected in Jerusalem and Ramallah on Sunday to promote his country’s proposal for restarting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

He is scheduled to meet separately with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“What’s important is that negotiations restart,” Fabius told reporters during a visit to Cairo, where he held what he said were intensive talks with Egyptian officials on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

“We need Israel’s security to be totally assured, that is essential, but at the same time we need the rights of the Palestinians to be recognized because without justice there can be no peace,” Fabius said.

“From this point of view, when settlement building continues, (the prospect of) a two-state solution recedes,” he said.

“We think that by doing nothing there will be the twin risk of stalemate and setting [the conflict] ablaze,” he added, according to Reuters.

The French initiative seeks a UN Security Council resolution which would set a timetable of 18 months for a final status agreement, and according to French media reports would threaten French recognition of Palestine should negotiations fail. Israel would likely vehemently oppose such a resolution.

The French proposal says the sovereignty of a future 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 proposed 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 Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a stipulation that has so far been rejected by Palestinian leadership.

The draft would “define the parameters and the timetable for negotiations, mobilizing the international community to facilitate the two parties to a conclusion,” Fabius said in May.

“The direct negotiations led by the US between Israelis and Palestinians failed. We need broader international backing [for pursuing a deal],” Fabius was quoted by AFP as saying.

The French FM spoke to opposition leader Isaac Herzog over the weekend about the French push for renewed Israeli-Palestinians talks and the emerging nuclear deal with Iran.

Herzog and Fabius agreed that a return to negotiations was necessary as soon as possible.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen since US-brokered negotiations between the two sides failed last spring, after a nine-month effort.

In December, the Security Council rejected a resolution put forth by the Palestinians that would have set a two-year timetable to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian settlement paving the way for a Palestinian state.

France worked for weeks on an alternative to the Palestinian resolution at the Security Council, but its more moderate draft was rejected by Abbas. France then joined those countries voting in favor of the Palestinian-backed resolution.

Fabius said that he would meet his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on Monday to discuss the final round of nuclear talks between world powers and Tehran ahead of a June 30 deadline for a comprehensive deal.

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