World diplomats in Paris to urge renewed Mideast peace talks (Source Associated Press) Fearing a new eruption of violence in the Middle East, more than 70 world diplomats gathered in Paris on Sunday to push for renewed peace talks that would lead to a Palestinian state.
The conference is meant to be a forceful message to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that much of the world wants peace and sees a two-state solution as the best way to achieve it in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“A two-state solution is the only possible one,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in opening the conference, calling it “more indispensable than ever” to solve the protracted conflict.
Netanyahu has snubbed Sunday’s conference as “rigged” against Israel, and Trump’s incoming administration isn’t taking part.
The gathering is an “empty summit” that was cooked up behind Israel’s back and is designed to force conditions on the country that are against its national interests, Netanyahu said. French diplomats fear Trump will unleash new tensions in the region by condoning settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians and potentially moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to contested Jerusalem. “Both parties are very far apart and their relationship is one of distrust — a particularly dangerous situation,” Ayrault said at the conference. “Our collective responsibility is to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table. We know it is difficult, but is there an alternative? No, there isn’t.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Paris defending American interests at the conference, in his last major diplomatic foray before he leaves office. It marks the end of eight years of failed U.S. efforts at Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.
Netanyahu declined an invitation to a special meeting after the conference, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was initially expected, but his visit to Paris was postponed. The Israeli prime minister said the gathering would do little to promote peace and marks the “last flutters of yesterday’s world.” “Tomorrow will look different and tomorrow is very close,” he said in apparent reference to Trump’s incoming administration.