French President Francois Hollande on Friday launched a conference intended to reboot peace talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that “the discussion on the conditions for peace between Israelis and Palestinians must take into account the entire region.”
“The threats and priorities have changed. The changes make it even more urgent to find a solution to the conflict, and this regional upheaval creates new obligations for peace. We must prove it to the international community,” Hollande said. “It is down to the parties, that is to say the Israelis and the Palestinians, and to them alone to choose peace. We cannot be a substitute for the parties themselves. Our initiative aims to give them the guarantee that the peace will be solid, long-lasting, and internationally monitored.”
Despite Hollande’s comments, the French peace summit excluded Israeli and Palestinian representatives. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has opposed the French initiative on those grounds.
“Conferences like this one are a sort of escape route for the Palestinians that allows them to avoid negotiations with us,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold, who met with Netanyahu on Thursday.
“We are not running away from negotiations with the Palestinians. They are running away from us. We believe that Arab states have the power to influence the Palestinians to sit with us for direct talks instead of creating an alternative to a conversation,” Gold added.