Today, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah reiterated his support for the French initiative to convene an international conference for talks between Israel and Palestine. The French initiative was quickly rejected by Israel. A statement published by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Thursday said: “Israel adheres to its position that the best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is direct, bilateral negotiations. Israel is ready to begin them immediately without preconditions. Any other diplomatic initiative distances the Palestinians from direct negotiations.”
Commenting on Netanyahu’s statement, Prime Minister Hamdallah said, “We commend France for taking the lead to advance the peace process; by rejecting this initiative Mr. Netanyahu proves that he is more interested in building illegal settlements than building a bridge to peace.”
The May 30 talks in Paris are set to include the Middle East Quartet (the United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations), the Arab League, the U.N. Security Council and about 20 countries. The initial planning meeting will exclude Israel and Palestine in order to allow participants to come up with a framework for an international peace conference later in the summer in order to launch talks on a two-state solution between the two parties.