(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Direct negotiations between the parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are the only way to achieve peace, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday at an Independence Day event for diplomats at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
Referring to the French government’s initiative to hold an international peace conference later this month, which Israel has rejected, Netanyahu said, “Direct talks are not only the most logical and best way to get to peace, they are ultimately the only way to achieve a lasting peace. Israelis and Palestinians deserve nothing less.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Sunday, and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls will follow that up with a visit of his own to the Jewish state later in the week.
Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General Dore Gold criticized the French initiative on Thursday, pointing out that it includes no reference to Israel as a Jewish state. Gold told the Jerusalem Post, “When French diplomats vote for a resolution at UNESCO that rejects the historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem, it should not come as a surprise that Israel rejects the French initiative and the political horizon it aspires to ultimately expose.”
On Wednesday, Valls criticized his own country’s support for the UNESCO resolution, saying the resolution contained “unfortunate, clumsy wording that offends and unquestionably should have been avoided, as should the vote.”