Israel to France: Don't push us

PM Netanyahu's envoys warn France not to advance initiatives against Israel's official policy.

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Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Israeli Prime Minister BInaymin Netanyahu's envoys rejected a French request that they attend an international peace conference set to be held in Paris in December.

The envoys met during Vimont's recent trip to Israel.

During his trip, Vimont claimed Israel would send an important message about its commitment to peace by attending the conference, and pressed Israeli officials to agree.

The "peace conference" is meant to discuss the Israeli-Arab conflict.

"If the Israeli government would decide to come to such a conference, it would be a perfect arena so that everyone, at last, would think that the commitment by the Israeli government to a two-state solution is genuine, sincere and deeply based and grounded in strong convictions," claimed Vimont.

Vimont's goal in visiting Israel was to gain support for the conference and insist Israel attend.

In response, Israel told him these initiatives only push peace farther away, and reiterated Israel's stance not to attend any conference convened without Israeli consent.

The envoys also emphasized that a conference based on principles which are opposed to Israeli policy is not a conference Israel wishes to attend. In this case, if Israel were to attend the conference, it would only enable Abbas to continue avoiding responsibility, allowing him to enjoy the fruits of international efforts while he himself does not have to commit to anything unless his preconditions are met.

Vimont justified France's new initiative, saying the purpose is to help Israelis and Palestinians Arabs renew direct negotiations. He also claimed France is not interested in forcing a single predetermined outcome.

“The time is not right for direct talks,” Vimont said. But "it's important for all those ready to endorse the two-state solution, to say so publicly."

Vimont also admitted to working with the European Union, the Arab League, and the Quartet, as well as the United States in France's "new" peace initiative. However, he did not deny the possibility that the other participants would come to a decision on their own and then turn it into a UN resolution.

“We have no problem if anyone comes forward with a draft resolution, be it on parameters and settlements,” Vimont said. “We [would] look at the value of the draft itself...This is why, precisely as I speak, we are in very close contact with our colleagues in the outgoing Obama Administration to assure them that if ever they decide, after the 8th of November, to go forward with some initiative, it is working with good coordination at what we are trying to do,” Vimont concluded.

Israel has been increasingly concerned that Obama may have something sinister in the wings, waiting for the day after elections so as not to harm Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign.

"Israel expects France not to advance an initiative or a process that is against the official stance of the State of Israel," Netanyahu's envoys said.

Israel's position has always been that only direct talks without preconditions between the Palestinian Authority and Israel have any potential to bring a true and peace. PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, however, has repeatedly refused to negotiate with Netanyahu unless various preconditions were met.