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French FM meets Abbas in push for renewed talks

June 21, 2015 10:02 P.M. (Updated: June 22, 2015 10:01 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday that Palestinians are in line with French approaches to negotiations with Israel, as France's FM tours the region in an effort to reignite peace talks.

"We are committed to ideas that will launch the peace process, start negotiations to end occupation and establish an independent, geographically connected Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem within the concept of the two-state solution," Abbas said during a meeting in Ramallah with French foreign minister Laurent Fabius.

Abbas welcomed Fabius' proposals regarding the peace process and said that Palestinians will do what they can to make it work, Palestinian FM Riyadh al-Maliki said in a joint press conference with his French counterpart that followed the meeting.

Fabius said the aim of the visit was to present the French ideas to “our friends and partners" in search for peace and security, adding that if the Palestinian issue remains unsolved, violence and terrorism will grow in the region.

The French FM also met with Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and representatives for the Arab league, and is scheduled to meet with Israeli officials.

Fabius told reporters in Cairo on Saturday that he would be urging the resumption of Middle East peace talks but warned that continued Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank is damaging chances of a final deal.

He added that France refuses contact with Hamas and has vowed to meet only with those who denounce violence and agree to recognize Israel.

Hours before Sunday's meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected "international dictates," as France is advocating a UN resolution laying out parameters for peace talks.

"The only way to reach an agreement is through bilateral negotiations, and we will forcibly reject any attempts to force upon us international dictates," Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting.

"In the international proposals that have been suggested to us -- which they are actually trying to force upon us -- there is no real reference to Israel's security needs or our other national interests," Netanyahu said in comments quoted by his office.

In March, shortly before the Israeli election, Netanyahu said that he would not allow a Palestinian state if reelected.

While the PM reneged his statement after being reelected, the majority of his far-right government publicly opposes the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Netanyahu also vowed he would never allow the Palestinians to establish a capital in occupied East Jerusalem and pledged to build "thousands" of settler homes in the city, which are illegal under international law.

Fabius' tour comes as peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian leadership have been ongoing for decades and are largely viewed by Palestinians as having failed to make any progress towards ending the nearly 50 year military occupation by Israel.

The most recent spate of negotiations led by the US collapsed in April 2014.

Israel claimed the process failed because the Palestinians refused to accept a US framework document outlining the way forward, while Palestinians pointed to Israel's settlement building and the government's refusal to release veteran prisoners.

The relationship between the two sides remains severely strained, prompting the Palestinians to step up efforts on the international stage to seek their promised state.

AFP contributed to this report.

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