France confirms peace conference has been postponed

France confirms a peace conference aimed at restarting Israel-PA talks has been postponed until January.

Elad Benari ,

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France confirmed on Saturday that it had postponed a proposed Middle East peace conference in Paris to January next year, Reuters reported.

France is trying to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) and held a preliminary conference in June.

It was planning to hold a follow-up conference before the end of December with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas involved.

"After nearly a year of efforts, France will hold during January an international conference bringing together all the states attached to (seeking) peace," France’s UN Ambassador, Francois Delattre, said in remarks carried by the foreign ministry on Saturday and quoted by Reuters.

"Everyone knows that only the Israelis and Palestinians will be able to conclude a peace directly, but we have to recognize today that the conditions are not in place today to restart the negotiations," he added.

It was not clear from Delattre's comments whether France still intended to try to bring Netanyahu and Abbas to the negotiating table in Paris.

The comments confirm remarks this past week by the PA envoy to France, who said France had postponed the peace conference since there was not enough time to prepare it in a way that ensures its success.

Israel has long opposed the French initiative, explaining 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.

The last U.S.-backed talks ended in failure in April 2014 when the PA unilaterally joined international organizations, thereby breaching the conditions of the discussions.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told French President Francois Hollande that he was willing to meet Abbas "directly, without preconditions”.