Palestinian Authority President Abbas to French leader:’We can resume negotiations’

Source: Palestinian Authority President Abbas to French leader:’We can resume negotiations’ – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

“We have not rejected negotiations, as the Israelis say, but [Benjamin] Netanyahu always refused,” Abbas told reporters.

BY RINA BASSIST
 SEPTEMBER 22, 2018 02:54
PA President Abbas to French leader: 'We can resume negotiations'

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met on Friday evening with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace in Paris. The two men first met privately, and were later joined by their respective advisors and with French Foreign Minister Yves le Drian.

Palestinian News Agency WAFA reports that the Palestinian leadership is willing to begin confidential or public peace negotiations with Israel.

“We have not rejected negotiations, as the Israelis say, but [Benjamin] Netanyahu always refused,” Abbas told reporters outside the Elysee Palace.

Abbas is expected to continue from France to Ireland, before heading to New York, for the UN General Assembly.

Following the meeting, the office of President Macron stated that the lengthy discussion between the two men and between the two delegations focused on the complicated situation of the Palestinian Authority at present.

According to the statement. ‘’The President of the Republic reiterated the full commitment of France to resume the thread of dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis and confirmed to President Abbas the willingness of France to mobilize on the diplomatic field, in order to change a situation that is no longer tenable.’’

Both leaders discussed the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with President Macron urging President Abbas and Hamas to fully participate at the Egypt-mediated talks, in order to allow the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza and the holding of Palestinian elections in the coming months.

In the statement, Macron condemns Israel’s settelment policy ‘’which has continued and accelerated in recent months.’’

In this context, the two leaders discussed the emblematic situation of the West Bank Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar slated by Israel for demolition. Macron reiterated the European call to Israel not to proceed with the demolition, ‘’which would constitute a very serious violation of international law.’’

Finally, Macron warns of ‘’other decisions that are dangerous for the security of all, including Israel,’’ that have jeopardized the United Nations system providing relief to Palestinian refugees.

Macron and Abbas last met in July in Moscow, when they both attended the Soccer World Cup final game between Croatia and France. The two leaders were scheduled to meet for a discussion after the game, but Following France’s victory President Macron was unavailable for such an encounter. Macron then extended an invitation to Abbas for a meeting in Paris this fall.

Diplomatic sources confirmed to the Jerusalem Post after the meeting, that Macron does not intend to recognize a Palestinian independent state for the moment, and that he will not make such a decision as a reaction to an action taken by any the sides; a position he has expressed on several occasions in the past.

Macron has refused, so far, to engage in a new European initiative on the Middle East, stressing that he would wait for the Trump administration to publish its Mideast peace proposal first.

Associates of Macron have urged both Palestinian and Israeli decision-makers not to reject off-handedly the Trump proposal, and to address it positively when presented. About one month after the December 2017 recognition by President Donald Trump of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, President Macron sent to Ramallah his diplomatic advisor Aurélien Lechevallier, to persuade the Palestinians not to rule out the American peace plan.

On Thursday, the Élysée confirmed that Macron would meet separately with President Donald Trump and with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during the UN General Assembly meeting next week.

He is expected to raise with President Trump the Palestinian issue.

Paris has been active in recent weeks, alongside Turkey and Jordan, in organizing the upcoming meeting in New York of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) – the framework for donor states to the Palestinians, which will also take place on the margins of the General Assembly. A forum which has become crucial for the Palestinians ever since President Trump decided to slash UNRWA funds.

Macron has met with PM Benjamin Netanyahu last in June, in Paris. So far, no meeting has been officially scheduled for the two of them in NY, though according to one diplomatic source they might meet there next Tuesday, the same day Macron is expected to meet with Trump.

WAFA reports that former prime minister Ehud Olmert met with Abbas during his stay in Paris.

The French President was expected to arrive to Israel this fall, for the closing of the cross-cultural season between France and Israel, but had canceled his visit this summer. At the time, his office cited internal matters as the cause for the cancelation, though sources at the Élysée told the Jerusalem Post that the decision to cancel the visit was taken on the backdrop of the Gaza border demonstrations.

 

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