French UN envoy confirms Israeli-Palestinian peace summit moved to January

By i24news 
 17.12.2016
 
France's ambassador to the UN on Friday said that the conditions are not in place for face-to-face negotiations between the Israeli and the Palestinians and confirmed that a planned summit on peace talks meant to be held by the end of the year would be moved to January.
 
"After nearly a year of efforts, France will hold during January an international conference bringing together all the states attached to (seeking) peace," Ambassador Francois Delattre said in a statement before the UN Security Council.
 
"Everyone knows that only the Israelis and Palestinians will be able to conclude a peace directly, but we have to recognize today that the conditions are not in place today to restart the negotiations."
 
Delattre's comments come after the Palestinian Ambassador to France Salman Al Harfi earlier this week informed his superiors that the conference had been postponed, explaining that French officials needed more time to prepare.
 
Delattre did not indicate whether France was pushing to have both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas present at the conference, or a date on which it would take place.
 
He noted, however, that "if we do not take resolute action in this direction, the two-state solution will continue to disappear as a mirage in the desert," and that the aim of the conference is to show both sides "how much they themselves have an interest in peace."
 
Israel, long opposed to the initiative, said it would not attend the summit organized by Paris, favoring direct talks with the Palestinians instead. Netanyahu proposed earlier this month a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for talks in Paris if French President François Hollande canceled the international conference.
 
France launched this initiative last January and had aimed to hold the summit by the end of the year. While the Palestinians welcomed this initiative, the Israeli government has always been firmly opposed, arguing that only direct bilateral negotiations can be successful.
 
Negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.