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Palestinian Ambassador: Egypt's initiative does not substitute for French-led peace talks

May 26, 2016 8:15 P.M. (Updated: June 1, 2016 6:17 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is set to arrive in Cairo on Friday to attend a meeting of Arab Ministers of Foreign Affairs to discuss the latest developments in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and prepare for the upcoming Arab Summit.

The Palestinian ambassador to Egypt, Jamal al-Shubaki, told Ma'an that the meeting on Friday would be supporting the French initiative, which consists of a multilateral conference in Paris with foreign ministers from 20 countries, including the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.

Al-Sisi’s initiative does not contradict the French initiative and is not a substitute for French-led peace talks planned for late May or early June, al-Shubaki emphasized.

Al-Shubaki said that although the Palestinian Authority remains in favor of the French proposed negotiations, Egyptian President Abdul al-Fattah al-Sisi’s proposed talks have sent a message to the region and Israel on the importance of the Palestinian cause, and has furthered the notion that solving the conflict would help ameliorate the region of debilitating wars and terrorism.

Netanyahu rejected the French initiative in April, saying the “best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestinians is through direct, bilateral negotiations," and instead voiced his support for President al-Sisi’s trilateral initiative aiming to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders face to face and create steps towards the unification of Palestinian political factions.

Netanyahu reiterated his opposition this week against France’s efforts to organize a peace conference which will reportedly aim for the establishment of a future Palestinian state along 1967 borders and a shared capital of Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority, however, has expressed hope for the French initiative, and in April shelved the submission of a new anti-settlement resolution to the UN out of fear that doing so could thwart progress of new French proposals.

The conference is expected to exclude Israeli and Palestinian leaders until a larger summit is held on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the fall.

All past efforts towards peace negotiations have failed to end the decades-long Israeli military occupation or bring Palestinians closer to an independent contiguous state.

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 ongoing settlement building and the government's refusal to release veteran prisoners.

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