Pro-Israel demonstrators march in Paris against peace summit
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Pro-Israel demonstrators march in Paris against peace summit

Hundreds gather outside Israeli embassy carrying banners highlighting other conflicts

A woman holds a sign reading "The illusion of peace by the sacrifice of Israel" during a protest rally  against the Paris Middle East peace conference, January 15, 2017. (AFP/Pierre CONSTANT)
A woman holds a sign reading "The illusion of peace by the sacrifice of Israel" during a protest rally against the Paris Middle East peace conference, January 15, 2017. (AFP/Pierre CONSTANT)

Hundreds of pro-Israel demonstrators marched in Paris on Sunday to protest against an international peace conference held in the French capital aimed at finding a fresh path to reaching a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

France hosted more than 70 countries at the summit in an effort to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process, though Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has derided the summit as “pointless” and “rigged” against the Jewish state.

Protesters from France and abroad gathered outside the Israeli Embassy in Paris and waved the national flag of the Jewish state. Some carried banners with slogans of “500,000 killed in Iraq. Even one Paris summit?” and “The illusion of peace by sacrificing Israel.”

The conference is expected to condemn Israeli settlement building and urge Israel and the Palestinians “to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution.”

In an opening statement, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault listed the goals for the conference as threefold: pushing a two-state solution forward, fostering direct negotiations and “tracing the path forward for the weeks and months ahead.”

A man holds a sign reading "Iraq 500000 dead: a Paris Conference?" during a protest rally against the Paris Middle East peace conference, in Paris January 15, 2017 . (AFP/Pierre CONSTANT)
A man holds a sign reading “Iraq 500000 dead: a Paris Conference?” during a protest rally against the Paris Middle East peace conference, in Paris January 15, 2017 . (AFP/Pierre CONSTANT)

Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are represented at the summit and Israeli officials have argued that it will push peace and direct negotiations further away.

But the Palestinians have welcomed France’s bid for the conference to reaffirm global support for a two-state solution to the seven-decade-old conflict.

Peace efforts have been at a standstill since April 2014.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who rebuked Israel recently over its settlements policy, is attending the talks, along with delegates from the UN, EU, Arab League and other organizations.

The meeting is intended to back a UN Security Council resolution last month condemning Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Security Council adopted the resolution after the Obama administration — in what many took as a parting shot at Netanyahu — took the rare step of abstaining from the vote.

Netanyahu called the resolution “shameful” and has also lashed out at the Paris meeting, saying only direct talks between the two sides can bring peace.

On Saturday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned that acute tensions could boil over again if US President-elect Donald Trump kept an election promise to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Ayrault told French TV on Sunday he believed Trump would find it “impossible” to fulfill the pledge to transfer the embassy.

“When you are president of the United States, you cannot take such a stubborn and such a unilateral view on this issue. You have to try to create the conditions for peace,” Ayrault said and warned that if he did there would be “extremely serious consequences.”

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