Israel ‘opposed to French-led peace talks’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told France’s foreign minister that Israel remains opposed to a French initiative to hold an international peace conference to resolve the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

While the Palestinians have welcome the French effort, Israel is concerned it will be faced with foreign dictates.

It also worries that France’s pledge to recognise a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in case the conference fails removes incentives for the Palestinians to compromise.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was in Israel on Sunday in a bid to change the prime minister’s mind.

“I told him that the only way to advance a true peace between us and the Palestinians is by means of direct negotiations between us and them, without preconditions,” Netanyahu said after their meeting in Jerusalem.

He also slammed France for having supported a UNESCO decision that did not recognise the Jewish people’s ties to a disputed Jerusalem holy site known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Ayrault told the Israeli PM the French vote had stemmed from a “misunderstanding” that would not happen again.

Full story in The Australian (AAP)