Netanyahu rejects Hollande's offer to talk with Abbas in Paris

Israel rejects Francois Hollande’s invite for Paris peace conference
Israel rejects Francois Hollande's invite for Paris peace conference

08 December, 2016

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he had told French President Francois Hollande that he would not meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas if France pushed ahead with an worldwide peace conference in Paris later this month.

In November, a spokesman for Netanyahu's office explained Israel's rejection of the French peace initiative, saying it was based on Israel's belief that reaching an agreement "will only come through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority".

In a phone conversation on Wednesday, the prime minister said he rejects the French invitation for a meeting with Abbas in Paris in two weeks' time, if it were to convene under the French peace initiative, following the summit of foreign ministers on December 21.

"Israel's current government continues to try to destroy any chance of salvaging the peace process, which leads to instability throughout the entire region", Abu Rudeineh added.

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The Palestinians strongly support France's global approach, saying years of negotiations with the Israelis have not ended the occupation.

Netanyahu reiterated to Hollande his preference for direct talks with Abbas outside of an global summit.

Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators collapsed in 2014 over Israel's refusal to release a group of Palestinian political prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so. Foreign Ministers from up to 50 countries are being invited to attend the talks, in which Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said he is willing to take part.

"Our position has not changed".

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