Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday, December 7 that he had told French President Francois Hollande he would not meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas if France pushed ahead with an international peace conference in Paris later this month, Reuters reports.
France has been trying to convince Netanyahu, who has repeatedly rejected the conference proposal, to meet with Abbas in Paris to try to revive moribund peace talks between the two sides, Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Wednesday, December 7.
"Netanyahu told Hollande that if there will not be an international conference in Paris, he will come to meet Abu Mazen (Abbas) for direct talks without preconditions," the statement said Netanyahu told Hollande.
"Israel will not participate in an international conference that will not contribute to achieving peace," it added.
Paris has remained determined to stage the conference. It believes that bringing the two leaders to meet with Hollande a day after the conference would be a way of circumventing Israeli accusations that the French initiative aims to impose a multilateral solution.
"We have to recreate the conditions for a two-state solution and we are determined more than ever to do everything to implement our initiative. The sooner the better," Ayrault told reporters at a news conference with his Spanish counterpart, Alfonso Dastis.
Ayrault confirmed that invitations had been sent to Netanyahu and Abbas to attend a face-to-face meeting. Diplomats said that Hollande was also planning to call U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss the issue.
Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said the Palestinians welcomed "any French effort to salvage the faltering political process."