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

STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP | French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius waves as he arrives before a meeting with the Iranian president at the Elysee Palace in Paris on January 28, 2016.

France said on Friday it intended to make another push at trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and warned that if its efforts failed, it would recognise a Palestinian State.

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France will engage in the coming weeks in the preparation of an international conference bringing together the parties and their main partners, American, European, Arab, notably to preserve and make happen the two-state solution,” French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius said.

A French diplomatic source added that Paris intended to launch this conference by the summer.

Shortly after the announcement, the Palestinian Authority’s Negotiations Affairs Department welcomed the initiative in a Twitter post and stated that they would be contacting France shortly.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz late Friday quoted a senior Israeli official rejecting Fabius’ warning that France would recognise a Palestinian state if the peace efforts failed.

Promise to recognise Palestinian state

In response to Fabius’ announcement, a senior US administration official said: "We are not going to speculate about the proposed Conference … The US position on this issue has been clear. We continue to believe that the preferred path to resolve this conflict is for the parties to reach an agreement on final status issues directly."

The Middle East peace process has stalled because of differences over borders and settlements. There have been no serious moves to resume the peace talks between Israel and Palestinians.

If this last attempt at finding a solution hits a wall, “well ... in this case, we need to face our responsibilities by recognising the Palestinian state,” Fabius said.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Fabius added that France had a responsibility to try to keep up efforts to find a solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

Criticism of Israel

“We see that unfortunately colonisation continues and that recently, the Israeli Prime Minister went so far as to reproach the UN Secretary General for encouraging terrorism on the basis that he had reminded of colonisation’s illegality and asked that it cease,” Fabius said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday described Israel’s settlements as “provocative acts” that raised questions about its commitment to a two-state solution, nearly 50 years after occupying lands the Palestinians seek for a state.

The United States, European Union and the United Nations have issued unusually stern criticism of Israel, provoking a sharp response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and raising Palestinians’ hopes of steps against their neighbour.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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