Netanyahu: France Providing Disincentive for Palestinians to Negotiate


France said Friday that it would organize an international conference aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that France would recognize Palestine as an independent state if that effort failed.

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet Sunday that he expects there will be some “sobering up” regarding the French intention to recognize a Palestinian state if Paris’ efforts to broker a peace conference fail.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Friday called for an international conference and warned that “if it does not succeed, then France will essentially adopt to a large degree the Palestinian position.” Netanyahu said this gives an incentive to the Palestinians not to compromise. He added that Israel was willing to enter into direct negotiations with the Palestinians without pre-conditions.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon dismissed the French initiative on Monday, telling Israel Radio: “I’ve had enough of conferences, enough of ceremonies, enough of documents phrased by lawyers. At the end of the day it’s between us and them. Our policy is very clear: We don’t want to control them. It seems like they don’t want to end the conflict. The heart of this conflict is their unwillingness to recognize our existence in any borders.”

Meanwhile, Samantha Sutton, special assistant to the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations at the U.S. State Department, said the U.S. position on the recognition of a Palestinian state has not changed. “We continue to believe that the preferred path to resolve this conflict is for the parties to reach an agreement on final status issues directly.”

If France recognizes a Palestinian state, the move would have no practical effect on Palestinian or Israeli lives, but it would have symbolic impact and increase diplomatic pressure on Israel, said Aaron David Miller, a former State Department peace negotiator. Miller called the French proposal “bone headed” on Twitter and said it won’t work.

{Andy Newscenter}