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Palestinian factions slam French initiative as dangerous violation of rights

June 3, 2016 4:18 P.M. (Updated: June 19, 2016 10:50 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian factions from across the political spectrum came together on Friday to announce their rejection of the French-led Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, calling it a dangerous violation of national rights.

In conjunction with the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, Hamas published a statement signed by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), saying “the ideas suggested by France as an initiative impose a dangerous violation against agreed-upon national rights, especially the right of return.”

In the statement, the factions confirmed refusal of the initiative and of all actions that aim to return back to what they see as fruitless negotiations that have been a reason for “increasing settlement building and providing a cover for the Judaization of Jerusalem.”

The factions called upon the countries of the world to take serious actions to stop Israeli crimes and to end the near decade-long Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.

An international conference began in Paris on Friday to set the framework for the upcoming peace negotiations.

Representatives of nearly 30 countries, including representatives from the the United Nations, European Union, and the Arab League attended the meeting to plan for the international summit expected to be held by the end of the year.

The joint statement of the Palestinian political factions came just days after the PFLP published a statement on their website calling for June 3 and 4 to be “days of mass struggle, protest, and activity to reject the French initiative and work to stop all of these suspicious activities that are in full swing in order to revive the marketing of the so-called ‘peace process’.”

Prior to their joint statement, Hamas and the PFLP had expressed similar sentiments regarding the French initiative as an individual move on the part of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that did not represent the opinion of the Palestinian people.

Later on Friday, PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat issued a statement praising the meeting in Paris as "a very significant step" to end Israel's "colonization and Apartheid policies in occupied Palestine." He warned of a future of "extremism and bloodshed rather than for coexistence and peace," if negotiations proved to be unsuccessful.

"We negotiated bilaterally with Israel, the occupying power, for over two decades, but they continue to violate all the agreements that we had signed," he added, defending the French-initiative's multilateral approach against Israel's rejection of the talks as a form of colonialism for involving international parties and excluding Palestinian and Israeli representatives.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first 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 Egyptian President Abd al-Fatah al-Sisi’s trilateral initiative aiming to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders face to face.

However, a senior Egyptian official reportedly told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Friday that no such Egyptian initiative exists, and al-Sisi was in fact focusing providing his full support to the French initiative.
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