- Title: Israel's Netanyahu dismisses Paris Mideast summit as "futile"
- Date: 15th January 2017
- Summary: JERUSALEM (JANUARY 15, 2017) (REUTERS) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU ARRIVE AT WEEKLY MEETING OF HIS CABINET MINISTERS VARIOUS OF NETANYAHU AT MEETING (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, SAYING: "The conference convening today in Paris is a futile conference. It was coordinated between the French and the Palestinians. It aims to force conditions on Israel that conflict with our national interests. It further distances peace because it hardens the Palestinians' positions and helps them avoid direct negotiations without preconditions. I must say that this conference is among the last twitches of the world of yesterday. Tomorrow will look different and that tomorrow is very close." CABINET MEETING IN PROGRESS NETANYAHU ADDRESSING MINISTERS MORE OF CABINET MEETING ISRAELI DEFENCE MINISTER AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN ARRIVING AT MEETING ISRAELI MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, URI ARIEL, SPEAKING TO REPORTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) ISRAELI MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, URI ARIEL, SAYING: "Paris conference is a redundant conference that is aimed at realising the political needs of France and others. Peace will not come from there, it may even further distance us from peace. Peace is made between the (rival) states. Jordan and Egypt made peace with Israel in direct talks without intervention. This is how it should be done with all neighbours and this is how we will do it." MORE OF MINISTERS ARRIVING AT MEETING
- Embargoed: 29th January 2017 10:37
- Keywords: Israel Palestinians Benjamin Netanyahu Paris Middle East summit
- Location: JERUSALEM
- City: JERUSALEM
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Diplomacy/Foreign Policy,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0015Z6XDFR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday (January 15) reiterated his dismissal of Paris Middle East conference, where major powers are expected to send a message to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians is the only way forward.
"The conference convening today in Paris is a futile conference," Netanyahu told his ministers at the start of a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu also hinted to the upcoming swearing in of Trump, whose plan to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem stirs Palestinian anger as well as worry among countries taking part in the Paris conference.
"I must say that this conference is among the last twitches of the world of yesterday. Tomorrow will look different and that tomorrow is very close," Netanyahu said.
Some 70 countries, including key European and Arab states as well as the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, are gathering in Paris for the meeting where neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are represented.
But, just five days before Trump is sworn in, the conference provides a platform for countries to send a strong signal to the future American leader.
Trump has pledged to pursue more pro-Israeli policies and move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been for 68 years, to Jerusalem, all but enshrining the city as Israel's capital despite international objections.
France has said the meeting does not intend to impose anything on Israel or the Palestinians and that, ultimately, only direct negotiations between the two can resolve the conflict.
A draft communique seen by Reuters reaffirms existing international resolutions, urges both sides to restate their commitment to the two-state solution and disavow officials who reject it, and asks the protagonists to "refrain from unilateral steps that prejudge the outcome of final status negotiations".
Diplomats said the communique could be toughened up with an allusion to Trump's plans for Jerusalem and whether to have a follow-up to the French initiative intensely debated.
Relations between the United States and Israel have soured during President Barack Obama's administration, reaching a low point late last month when Washington declined to veto a U.N. resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements in occupied territory.
Obama's secretary of state, John Kerry, said the settlement programme threatened Middle East peace, and that the two-state solution was in "serious jeopardy".
Palestinian President Authority Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday (January 14) that he had written to Trump warning that a move to Jerusalem would kill off the peace process and strip the United States of its role as honest broker - and could lead to the Palestinians going back on their recognition of Israel.
Home to Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish communities, France has tried to breathe new life into the peace process over the past year. It believes that, with the uncertainty surrounding how the next U.S. administration will handle the issue, it is important to push the sides back to talks rather than allowing a fragile status quo to fester.
But with elections coming up this year in France and Germany, and Britain appearing to align itself more closely with the Trump administration on the issue, the prospects of the European Union, the largest economic partner for both Israel and the Palestinians, taking a lead on the matter appear unlikely.
Arab states have their own concerns about how Trump's relationship with them will turn out, and have taken a cautious line.
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