Strategic talks between Israel and France turned sour last week as anger mounted over France's plans to advance a United Nations Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood.
While usually a venue for Foreign Ministry officials of both countries to talk security and diplomacy, the meetings deteriorated into disagreements over the Palestinian issue, revealing cracks in the Israeli-French relationship.
Particularly irking the Israelis, Haaretz reported Thursday, is French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius' attempt to revive a UN Security Council resolution bent on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a mandated and deadlined peace deal.
The draft would define the 1949 Armistice Lines as a reference point for peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel but allow room for exchanges of territory. It would also designate Jerusalem as capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state and call for a fair solution for Palestinian refugees, with some vague references to Israel as a Jewish state.
Israeli diplomats told the newspaper that the Foreign Ministry had received information suggesting France had already begun discussing the draft's language with the Palestinians, Arab states, and the Security Council.
No such consultations, they claim, have been had with Israel, nor has Israel received an outline of the resolution's main points.
Two Israeli diplomats told Haaretz that Foreign Ministry Director-General Nissim Ben-Shitrit protested the unfair treatment during last week's talks with the French delegation led by Foreign Ministry Secretary General Christian Masset.
“You are speaking with the whole world about your initiative, just not with us,” the pair quoted Shitrit as saying. “You seem to have forgotten that we are also a party to this and that you ought to involve us, too.”
According to the diplomats, the French delegates grew defensive, denying they had shown a draft to the Palestinians.
“They said that things were at a preliminary stage and that when there was something drawn up, they’d show it to us,” one diplomat relayed. “They said the whole process in the Security Council was for our benefit and that they are trying to arrive at a formula that will be acceptable to both sides and would allow the resumption of the peace process.”
Israeli officials, however, were not convinced and the meetings grew more confrontational, reflecting the "lack of agreement" on the issue.