Israeli officials on Sunday credited the efforts of the National Security Council and the Foreign Ministry for a “significant weakening” of the text of the final joint declaration issued by the participants of a peace conference in Paris.
The one-day summit came to a close on Sunday evening with a statement, backed by the 70 countries, calling on Israel and the Palestinians to restate their commitment to a peace settlement and to refrain from unilateral actions.
The statement urged both sides to “officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution” and disassociate from voices that reject that goal. It also called for them not to take one-sided actions that could preclude fruitful talks.
The Israeli officials were jubilant that “problematic passages” in a contentious recent UN Security Council resolution on the settlements were not included in the Paris document. Resolution 2334, passed on December 23, had harshly condemned the settlement enterprise, declaring that it has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
Furthermore, the Israeli officials expressed satisfaction over the fact that no further action against Israeli settlements is planned at the Security Council. US Secretary of State John Kerry promised as much to Prime Minister Netanyahu in a phone call from Paris earlier Sunday.
Th ostensible success, the officials concluded, was the “result of harsh reactions” voiced by Israel against Resolution 2334.
Wrapping up the conference, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters that the purpose of the meet was to convey a sense of urgency about the threat to the two-state solution.
He urged all sides to refrain from unilateral actions that could inflame the situation, saying, “Running the risk of making this conflict worse would be giving a gift to extremists.”
He added that Resolution 2334 was an expression of the world’s voice on the issue.
In his call to Netanyahu from the Paris conference, Kerry promised to prevent any followup action to the resolution, either at the confab itself or at the United Nations Security Council.
After a month of chilly ties between Washington and Jerusalem, Kerry updated Netanyahu about the steps he was taking to “soften” the text of the final communique.
The prime minister told Kerry that the outgoing administration had already caused Israel damage last month by not vetoing Resolution 2334. No other resolution should be passed, Netanyahu said, either in New York nor in Paris.
Netanyahu unleashed a furious attack on the Obama administration after the anti-settlements resolution passed last month with the US withholding its veto. The prime minister has accused Washington of drafting and advancing the resolution, allegations the US administration has rejected.
While the Palestinians welcomed Sunday’s conference in Paris, Netanyahu called it “rigged” and cooked up behind Israel’s back to force it to accept conditions that were against its national interests.
US President-elect Donald Trump’s administration did not take part, and even the conference organizers weren’t expecting any breakthroughs.
As the multinational conference convened in Paris, Netanyahu again dismissed the French initiative, calling it a “pointless” endeavor that was inherently anti-Israel.
Unlike Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has welcomed the bid to reaffirm global support for a two-state solution, and will meet French President Francois Hollande in the coming weeks to be briefed on the conference outcome, diplomats said last week.
Paris officials said that Netanyahu declined a similar invitation.
During the conference, French President Francois Hollande said the world cannot impose a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a lasting peace accord can only be clinched through direct talks.
Agencies contributed to this report.