Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected the possibility of a meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas at a France-led peace conference later this month.
Israel has long opposed the French initiative, which would involve an international summit in Paris at the end of December aimed at restarting long-stalled peace efforts with the Palestinians.
Israel says that the only way to reach a peace agreement is through direct talks with the PA, which the PA refuses, choosing instead to impose preconditions on talks.
Netanyahu told French President Francois Hollande in a Wednesday phone call that he was willing to meet Abbas "directly, without preconditions," his office said in a statement.
"Israel will not participate in an international conference that will not contribute to peace," it added.
The PA strongly supports France's international approach, while Netanyahu has spoken out against "international diktats" and repeatedly called for direct negotiations.
A spokesman for Netanyahu repeated Israel's rejection of the French initiative on Wednesday.
"Peace will be achieved through direct negotiations with our Palestinian neighbors, not through international conferences," the spokesman, David Keyes, said before Netanyahu's call with Hollande.
"Our position has not changed. Israel will not attend the French conference because it will push peace further away," he stressed.
While the PA has accepted the French initiative, it has also continued to seek an alternative, namely in the form of a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli “settlements”.