Israeli PM criticises French statement on Palestinian state

Netanyahu criticises French ultimatum on recognising Palestinian state if peace efforts fail

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem January 31, 2016.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday criticised France's statement regarding the recognition of a Palestinian state if plans to renew peace efforts concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fail, arguing that it gives Palestinians no reason to compromise.

French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius said on Friday that France is working to restart plans for an international peace conference aimed towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 

Fabius said that if the peace process was to fail, Paris would unilaterally recognise a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu, speaking to his cabinet said a "threat" to recognise a Palestinian state if France's peace efforts did not succeed constituted "an incentive to the Palestinians to come along and not compromise."

"I believe that we will see a sobering up on this issue. In any case, we will work to bring this about and our position is very clear: We are prepared to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions and without dictated conditions."  he added.

Palestinian officials have welcomed the French initiative, having long argued for an international process to end the Israeli occupation and bring about the two-state solution.

In a statement released on Sunday, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry accused Netanyahu of “sabotaging all initiatives for the past seven years” since he came in office, “that were aimed to resolve the conflict.”

Washington has responded with caution to the French move, saying it continued to prefer that Israelis and the Palestinians reach an agreement through direct talks.

The United States and European Union - Israel's closest allies - have issued unusually stern criticism of Israel in the recent weeks regarding the policies of Netanyahu's right-wing government.

The continued construction of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - which both came under Israeli occupation following the Six-Day war in 1967 - often raises tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, and resulted in the breaking-off of peace talks between the Israeli government and the Palestinian authority.

More than 165 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since October 1, while about 25 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same period.

Sweden became the first EU member nation to recognise the Palestinian state in 2014. A total of 136 UN-member countries, mostly in Africa, Latin America and Asia also recognise the Palestinian state.

TRTWorld and agencies