Israel hits back at France over threats to recognise Palestinian statehood
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Sunday for a more “sober” approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in dismissing a French peace initiative as only encouraging Palestinians to shun compromise.
The proposal on Friday by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius for an international peace conference was the latest sign of Western frustration over the absence of movement toward a two-state solution since the collapse of US-brokered negotiations in 2014.
Mr Fabius said that if the French plan did not break the deadlock, Paris would recognise a Palestinian state.
Such a step would raise concern in Israel that other European countries, also long opposed to its settlement-building in occupied territory, would follow suit.
In public remarks to his cabinet, Mr Netanyahu did not explicitly reject the notion of an international conference – an aide said Israel would examine such a request once it was received – but he made clear that reported details of the plan made it a non-starter.
Mr Netanyahu said a “threat” to recognise a Palestinian state if France’s peace efforts did not succeed constituted “an incentive to the Palestinians to come along and not compromise”.
“I assess that there will be a sobering up regarding this matter,” Mr Netanyahu added. “In any event, we will make effort so that there is a sobering up here, and our position is very clear: We are prepared to enter direct negotiation without preconditions and without dictated terms.”
On Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the French proposal, telling an African summit in Ethiopia that “the status quo cannot continue”.
But Washington responded with caution to the French move, saying it continued to prefer that Israel and the Palestinians reach an agreement on final-status issues through direct talks.
While aware the initiative may struggle to get off the ground, French officials said Paris had a responsibility to act now in the face of ongoing Israeli settlement activity and the prospect of continued diplomatic inaction as the United States focuses on a presidential election in November.
And, the officials said, Netanyahu had gone a step too far in accusing UN Secretary of State Ban Ki-moon of giving a “tailwind to terrorism” by laying some of the blame for four months of stabbings and car rammings by Palestinians at Israel’s door. Mr Ban angered Israel by saying last week that it is “human nature to react to occupation”.
The United States and the European Union – Israel’s closest allies – have also issued unusually stern criticism of Israel in recent weeks, reflecting their own frustration with the policies of Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing government.
“Mr Fabius said that if the French plan did not break the deadlock, Paris would recognise a Palestinian state.”
“And, the officials said, Netanyahu had gone a step too far in accusing UN Secretary of State Ban Ki-moon of giving a “tailwind to terrorism” by laying some of the blame for four months of stabbings and car rammings by Palestinians at Israel’s door.”
pot meet kettle..i repeat.