Israeli official repeats calls for direct talks, instead of being forced to cater to the interests of each European country participating in the initiative, when some have clear anti-Israel positions.
By ADAM RASGON
Top Abbas advisor Ahmad Majdalani said on Sunday that the Palestinian leadership still hopes to participate in an international peace conference in Paris before the end of the year, but fears that Israel will prevent it from taking place.
“I cannot say with certainty that [the conference] will take place because the Israeli government is placing all the possible obstacles and impasses in front of it,” Majdalani, who also serves as a PLO Executive Committee member, told The Jerusalem Post, adding, “I don’t think Israel will participate and it is also pressuring its allies not to participate.”
The Palestinian leadership has vigorously lobbied for an international peace conference, which includes multiple international parties, since the conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal in June 2015.
Majdalani added that if the conference does not take place, the French government could recognize the State of Palestine.
“The French government is responsible for making its own decision, but it has already said that the issue of recognizing the State of Palestine is on the table,” Majdalani remarked.
Former French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in January that France would automatically recognize the State of Palestine, if its effort to achieve a two-state solution failed. However, Fabius’s successor, FM Jean Marc-Ayrault, backtracked, saying in March that “there is never anything automatic.”
Majdalani also said that the Palestinian leadership will continue to advance its international strategy, if the conference does not take place: “We will continue our efforts at the UN, the Security Council and other international institutions.”
Emmanuel Nahshon, Foreign Ministry spokesman, told the Post that Israel opposes holding an international peace conference. “We support bilateral talks and we know that the only way to make progress is by talking directly to the Palestinians, not introducing a multiplicity of factors,” he said. “If we participated in such a conference, we would have to cater to the interests of all the countries participating in the initiative and some of those countries have anti-Israel positions. There’s absolutely no reason we should make those countries partners in this process.”
The last round of peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaderships collapsed in April 2014.