Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French Prime Minister Manuel Valls he wants to hold a one-on-one meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas instead of a multinational conference in Paris. Netanyahu thinks Abbas will use the conference as a way to ignore direct negotiations with Israel.

France has scheduled the peace talks for the beginning of June without Israel or Palestinian Authority representatives.

From The Times of Israel:

“The Palestinian Authority does not see the French initiative as an inducer for negotiations, but as a way to avoid them,” he said.

Instead, Netanayhu said, he would be willing to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “in Paris or wherever,” and hold face-to-face negotiations without international mediation. “Every difficult issue will be on the table,” he said.

France plans to host another conference with Israel and Palestine in the autumn.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah immediately turned down Netanyahu’s offer when Valls went to the West Bank.

Valls has traveled to Israel and the Palestinian territories to talk about France’s desire to hold talks between the sides in an effort to establish a Palestinian state. But Netanyahu believes the Palestinian Authority are using the conference to “prevent direct talks with Israel.” From Times of Israel:

“Peace is not achieved in international UN-style conferences, nor through international diktats that come of meetings of countries around the world sitting to decide our fate,” Netanyahu said. “Peace is achieved through direct negotiations where the Palestinian Authority would face a historic choice: recognize a Jewish state side by side with a demilitarized Palestinian sate, or try to eliminate it.”

He added:

“But here’s the difference: I will sit alone, directly, with president Abbas in the Elysée (French presidential) palace or anywhere else that you choose. Every difficult issue will be on the table.”

Hamdallah claimed that Netanyahu “wants to buy more time.” Hamdallah wants to participate in the multinational conference instead of direct talks:

“After 22 years of negotiations we did not achieve anything from the Israelis and we do not want this time to let Netanyahu escape from the (hands of) the International community,” Hamdallah said.

While Israel has spoken frequently against Palestinian incitement, Hamdallah told the French that he was concerned by Israeli hatred.

“This Israeli government has drifted further towards extremism and racism,” the Palestinian leader said.

“Its leaders incite and spew hatred against our people while expropriating our land and natural resources, and expanding illegal settlements,” he said as he described for Valls the harm caused to his people by Israel’s continued presence in the West Bank, including continued settlement construction.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the Palestinian agency Ma’an reported that Netanyahu sent a “secret Israeli delegation” to Cairo to arrange a meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The delegation allegedly wants Sisi to participate in talks with Abbas and Netanyahu.

France began talking about the initiative in January. It warned Israel that it will recognize a Palestinian state if the talks ended in a stalemate. Israeli officials said the threat gave Abbas more ammunition to not negotiate with them.

Since then, Israeli officials have said they want to meet one-on-one with Abbas instead of a huge conference.  Netanyahu voiced his decision against the conference last month.

The United States tried to hold peace talks between Israel and Palestine, but the talks collapsed in April 2014.

[Featured image via YouTube]

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