Itongadol.- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday characterized as “surprising” a French peace initiative that calls for an international conference, and – if that fails – recognition by Paris of a Palestinian state.
Speaking in Berlin at a press conference alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu said it was surprising for the French to say in advance they would recognize a Palestinians state if the peace conference fails without knowing whether that state may turn into yet another dictatorship in the region; whether that state “really intended to end the conflict” with Israel and “recognize the “state of the Jews”; and without knowing if there will be security arrangements in that state to prevent Hamas, Islamic State or both from taking over land from which Israel might withdraw.
“Obviously this ensures that a conference will fail,” Netanyahu said. “Because if the Palestinians know that their conditions will be accepted, and they don\’t have to do anything [to compromise], then certainly there is an internal contradiction and they will not do anything.”
Netanyahu said the only way to promote peace was “through negotiations with preconditions, directly between the two sides. That is the real way, and anyone who tries to divert from that path will not promote successful negotiations.”
Netanyahu\’s comments came within hours of French Ambassador Patrick Maisonnave meeting in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem with Alon Ushpiz, the ministry’s deputy director-general for political affairs, and presenting him with details of the French plan.
The plan calls for the convening of a peace conference in Paris in the summer. This meeting is to be preceded by a meeting of an international support group, without Israeli and Palestinian participation.
Merkel, meanwhile, was asked whether following the killing of hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East it “wasn\’t time to admit that Palestinian terror has nothing to do with settlements and the so called occupation.”
She replied, “We in the EU and in German are trying to see things realistically. We recognize the terror threat that Israel must face, and on the other hand we want to promote a process of living together in peace, and that is based on two states for two peoples,” she said.
Merkel said that she discussed with Netanyahu possible future steps. Though acknowledging that “this is not the time for progress,” she said it is possible to “improve things in certain areas,” and said that Germany in particular would help in areas of economic development.
Merkel said that despite differences between Israel and the EU, it was important to keep the channels of communication open. “We agree that Israel, Europe and Germany are facing the same challenges, and we had our talks in this spirit, and discussed how to fight Islamic State and how it is possible to stop the terrorist threat.”