(JNS.org) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French President Francois Hollande that he will not attend an upcoming international peace conference led by France.
According to a statement released Wednesday by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu called Hollande to tell him that he would not attend the Paris summit. Rather, the Israeli leader said he was willing to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for direct negotiations.
“Netanyahu told Hollande if there were not an international conference in Paris, the prime minister would meet with Abbas for direct talks without preconditions….Israel will not take part in the international conference, which won’t contribute to bringing peace,” the statement said.
Hollande is reportedly planning to hold a meeting of foreign ministers from nearly two dozen countries in Paris Dec. 21, in an effort to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. France held a similar conference in June; Israeli and Palestinian representatives were not invited to that gathering.
"We have to recreate the conditions for a two-state solution and we are determined more than ever to do everything to implement our initiative. The sooner the better," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters Wednesday, according to Reuters.
Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that he believes peace can be achieved not through international conferences or solutions imposed by third parties, but only through direct negotiations.
Hollande, who according to polling data is the most unpopular president in modern French history, announced earlier this month that he would not run for re-election next year, becoming the first sitting French president to forgo a shot at a second term.