Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has renewed rejection of a French peace initiative, telling the visiting French prime minister that peace cannot be forged through international conferences but only through direct negotiations.
“Peace just does not get achieved through international conferences, UN-style,” Netanyahu said on Monday at a press conference with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
“It doesn’t get to fruition through international diktats or committees … seeking to decide our fate and our security when they have no direct stake in it.”
Paris plans to hold ministerial-level talks on June 3 as a first step in reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which came to a halt in April 2014.
The talks would initially exclude Israel and Palestinian authorities but would bring together representatives of the US, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, as well as representatives from Arab and European nations.
The French hope that beginning with non-direct talks could lay the groundwork for an agreement later between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Palestinians have welcomed the French effort, but Israel has rejected it out of concern that the country will be faced with foreign dictates.
Instead, the Israeli leader proposed sitting down for direct talks in Paris with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“I will sit alone directly with President Abbas in the Elysee Palace, or anywhere else that you choose,” Netanyahu said.
Speaking to broadcaster i24news, Valls said direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians had failed.
“The role of world powers is to ensure a regulated dialogue,” Valls said in Tel Aviv.
The French premier is expected to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, France’s former foreign minister Laurent Fabius said France would recognise a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem if the conference and efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks fail.