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France: Israel considering Paris peace talks

June 7, 2011 1:26 P.M. (Updated: June 8, 2011 12:46 P.M.)
WASHNIGTON (Ma'an) -- Israel is considering a French proposal to resume peace talks with Palestine in Paris before the end of June, France's foreign minister told reporters in the United Sates on Wednesday.

Speaking alongside the minister, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the two discussed Paris' plan, "will be certainly working together," she said, adding that both nations believed the "status quo is unsustainable."

France's Alain Juppe addressed the looming prospect of a Palestinian move at the UN seeking international support for statehood, saying "We have the feeling that if nothing happens before September, the situation will be very difficult for everybody when the General Assembly will discuss a resolution about the Palestinian state. It will not be easy for us Europeans, for Palestinians, for [Israelis], and the only way to avoid such a situation is to boost or to encourage a resumption of the negotiation[s]."

Juppe said he was "rather pleasantly surprised," by President Mahmoud Abbas' immediate agreement with the idea of a conference in Paris. Israel, he said is "reflecting on this proposal."

As for failed American attempts to sponsor talks, Juppe said France and the US "agreed to continue our conversation and our work closely as possible."

American-mediated peace talks came to an end on 26 September 2010, when Israel resumed settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, after a partial moratorium ended. Palestinian negotiators had indicated from the start of talks 24 days earlier that they would walk away if Israel continued building illegal Jewish-only settlements on occupied lands, calling construction a sign of bad faith.

US officials tried for months to persuade Israel to halt the building, with promises of weapons, UN vetos on the Palestinian issue and financial support. No deal was reached, and peace talks did not resume.

In May, US President Barack Obama made a series of speeches outlining a US view for a return to talks, announcing that negotiations must be based on the pre-1967 ceasefire lines with land swaps where long-standing Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank would remain under Israeli control. Israel scoffed at the prospect, which had been previously accepted under earlier negotiations.

France has not laid out its platform for talks publicly, but Juppe said he and Clinton "had on this issue a comprehensive and in-depth exchange, and we agree to work closely together," noting that the countries "hold close views on the international situation."

Juppe said no invitations to the conference had been handed out, as officials were waiting to hear from Israel.

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