France: US excluded itself from peace process
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France: US excluded itself from peace process

Paris says Washington no longer able to play mediation role in conflict, as Macron appeals for calm after Trump's recognition of Jerusalem

French President Emmanuel Macron (C-L), Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (C-R) watch French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Qatari counterpart  Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (R) sign bilateral agreements in the Qatari capital Doha on December 7, 2017.  (AFP/Karim Jaafar)
French President Emmanuel Macron (C-L), Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani (C-R) watch French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani (R) sign bilateral agreements in the Qatari capital Doha on December 7, 2017. (AFP/Karim Jaafar)

PARIS, France — France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Friday said Washington has excluded itself from the Israeli-Palestinian peace process after US President Donald Trump’s widely criticized recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, adding that there was a risk of a new intifada.

“The United States, which until now has been able to play a mediation role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, have now excluded themselves from that a little,” he told France Inter radio.

Washington is “isolated in this affair,” he added.

Ahead of a trip to France on Sunday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Le Drian said “France can act, but it cannot act alone.”

“We must pursue the necessary mediation to allow calm to return, so that we can commit to a negotiation process,” he said.

In a meeting with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri, French President Emmanuel Macron appealed for calm in the region.

Macron said the decision should not “add to the instability of the region. I’m issuing a call for calm and responsibility by everyone which is essential for the efforts we are undertaking here.”

His concern was echoed by Hariri, who said the decision “will complicate the peace process even more”, adding it posed yet another challenge to the tense Middle East.

“I can only repeat our rejection of this decision and our commitment to the Arab initiative for a solution based on two states,” Hariri said.

The French president’s comments come as tensions soar in the Middle East over Trump’s decision, with Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas calling for a “day of rage” on Friday.

The disputed city of Jerusalem lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In a Wednesday address from the White House, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

The move was hailed by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

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