French FM Headed to Middle East for Peace Push

France's foreign minister to meet Arab League ministers, as well as with PM Netanyahu and PA chairman Abbas in bid to revive stalled talks.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Laurent Fabius
Laurent Fabius

France's foreign minister will head to the Middle East this weekend with an initiative aimed at bringing Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) back to peace talks under an international framework, Reuters reported Friday.

With the region's crises worsening and Washington reassessing its options on U.S.-Israel relations, France sees a narrow window to resume negotiations, according to the news agency.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius will explore the prospects for talks with key Arab League ministers, including Saudi Arabia, in Cairo on Saturday and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday.

"Everything points to inertia, but we believe that this inertia is deadly," a senior French diplomat quoted by Reuters said. "We can no longer isolate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the regional context."

If the conflict remains unresolved, the diplomat added, radical groups such as Islamic State will make the Palestinian cause their own.

Paris hopes to persuade Arab states, the European Union and UN Security Council members to pressure both sides to make compromises neither wants to make alone.

"The method to reach a definitive solution has been for both sides to meet face to face with the Americans as an honest broker, but this method has failed," the diplomat told Reuters. "It needs international support."

France has so far focused with Arab states on a possible UN Security Council resolution that would set negotiating parameters and establish a time period, possibly 18 months, to complete talks.

Work on the resolution began in March, immediately after the elections in Israel. Right after those elections, Fabius called for negotiations between Israel and the PA to resume in order to achieve "a comprehensive and lasting peace accord" based on the “two-state solution”.

The Security Council in December rejected a resolution, brought forward by the PA’s allies, that would have set a deadline for reaching a final peace deal and pave the way to the creation of a Palestinian state.

Referring to the proposed French resolution earlier this week, Abbas said the PA would only back a proposal that raises all of their demands, indicating the demand for an independent Palestinian state on the 1949 Armistice lines with the eastern part of Jerusalem as its capital, and a clear date set for the end of negotiations and implementation of PA sovereignty.

Abbas emphasized that the PA fundamentally opposes recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, reiterating his vehement rejection of the recognition that Netanyahu requested in talks.

If recognition of the Jewish state is included in the French proposal the PA will not back it, warned the PA chairman.

Netanyahu has highlighted his opposition to French moves and Israeli deputy foreign minister Tzipy Hotovely dismissed it on Friday.

"The French initiative is counter-productive because it gives the illusion to the Palestinians that they will get something from the international community without having to make concessions," she was quoted as having told the French daily Le Figaro.

She added that only direct dialogue between the two sides could resolve the conflict.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)