Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Malawi: HIV-infected man paid to have sex with girls arrested

Read more

ACROSS AFRICA

Meet Omar, the 10-year-old chef who became a social media star

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Gigantic snails are a delicacy in Ivory Coast

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

La vie en gris: The story behind France's famed rooftops

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: Olympic refugee team goes for gold

Read more

FOCUS

Taiwan's nuclear dumping ground

Read more

ENCORE!

Greece: Creativity in a time of crisis

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French growth grinds to a halt over strikes

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Norway will 'move mountains' for Nordic neighbour Finland

Read more

Middle East france 24

Netanyahu slams French 'threat' to recognise Palestine if talks fail

© Amir Cohen / AFP | Netanyahu chairs his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday January 31, 2016.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-02-01

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu has criticised a French ultimatum that it would unilaterally recognise a Palestinian state if peace talks fail, saying such rhetoric might encourage Palestinians to shun any compromise.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius proposed a new round of peace talks on Friday after months of Western frustration over the absence of movement towards a two-state solution.

Fabius said that if new talks failed to break the deadlock, Paris would unilaterally recognise a Palestinian state, raising concerns in Israel that other European countries could follow suit.

On Sunday night, Netanhayu told his cabinet that Israel did not reject the proposal for renewed talks, but slammed France’s “threat” as “an incentive to the Palestinians to come along and not compromise”.

“I assess that there will be a sobering up regarding this matter,” Netanyahu added. “In any event, we will make effort so that there is a sobering up here, and our position is very clear: We are prepared to enter direct negotiation without preconditions and without dictated terms.”

On Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the French proposal, telling an African summit in Ethiopia that “the status quo cannot continue”.

Washington responded with caution to the French move, saying it wanted Israel and the Palestinians to reach an agreement on final-status issues through direct talks.

Criticism

While aware that a new round of talks may struggle to get off the ground, French officials told Reuters that Paris had a responsibility to act now in the face of Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories, amid the prospect of diplomatic inaction from the United States as it focuses on its presidential election.

And, the officials said, Netanyahu had gone a step too far in accusing UN Secretary of State Ban Ki-moon of giving a “tailwind to terrorism” by laying some of the blame for four months of stabbings and car rammings by Palestinians at Israel’s door. Ban angered Israel by saying last week that it is “human nature to react to occupation”.

The United States, European Union - Israel’s closest allies - have also issued unusually stern criticism of Israel in recent weeks, reflecting their own frustration with the policies of Netanyahu’s right-wing government.

Palestinian hopes

The criticism, particularly about the settlements, where some 550,000 Jews live in around 250 communities scattered across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, has raised Palestinian hopes that world powers might finally be minded to support a UN resolution condemning Israel’s policy outright.

The Palestinians are seeking a state in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, parts of which have been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Palestine has non-member observer status at the United Nations and its flag flies with those of member states at UN headquarters in New York.

Sweden became the first EU member nation to recognise the Palestinian state in 2014. A total of 136 UN-member countries, mostly in Africa, Latin America and Asia, now do so.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2016-02-01

  • DIPLOMACY

    France to organise conference on Israel-Palestinian two-state solution

    Read more

  • ISRAEL

    Netanyahu accuses UN’s Ban of ‘encouraging terror’

    Read more

  • FRANCE - ISRAEL

    France's criminalisation of Israel boycotts sparks free-speech debate

    Read more

COMMENT(S)