France invited Israel to partake in a Middle East peace conference to be held later this year in Paris. Israel has formally rejected the invitation.
Peace talks in 2014 between Israel and Palestine failed to bring any significant changes, so France’s proposed conference aimed to bring both sides together to discuss negotiations. However, Israel believes that France’s proposal is only a digression. Israel has long held the belief that direct negotiations with Palestine are the only way to engage with the conflict, and views the Paris conference as a “distraction from the goal of direct negotiations with the Palestinians,” according to NBC News.
“[Israel] told the French envoy in a clear and unequivocal manner that Israel’s position to promote the peace process and reach an agreement will only come through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement to NBC News.
The potential of a conference is not the only thing holding back peace negotiations between the two regions. Palestine has insisted that peace talks will not resume until Israel ceases building settlements on Palestinian land. The Palestinians want to use this land for an independent state, but Israel refuses to stop construction. Settlements are Jewish communities from the West Bank territory. In the past, settlements have often inhibited peace, which is still the case in the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestine also requests the release of prisoners, another demand that Israel is denying. In turn, Israel wants the Palestinians to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol.
The battles over land do not seem to be decreasing, and some analysts claim that the conflict will never be resolved. It is unclear how Israeli and Palestinian states can be established as separate without a legal agreement to officially separate the land.
The United States backed the 2014 peace talks, but these negotiations failed to present any immediate solutions. Furthermore, the Palestinian government rejected President Mahmoud Abbas’ legitimacy, and would not allow him to negotiate representing Palestine.
In addition, Israel was less than pleased with the new Palestinian Unity Government. President Abbas united two separate governments and was not approved by the Legislative Council. This illegal government caused strain between the two parties, and they remained hostile with each other. This unity government resigned in 2015 and resulted in a reorganization of the Palestinian government system.
Thus, negotiations ceased, and now attempts are being made to continue talks of peace.
France has continuously attempted to revive the peace talks. Earlier in 2016, France held a conference with the United Nations, United States, and some Arab countries to try to resolve the conflict without having representatives from either Israel or Palestine. The goal of this preliminary conference was to discuss major peace proposals and prepare for another conference later this year.
The French foreign ministry continues its plan to hold a conference by year’s end, yet there has not yet been an official comment from French envoy Pierre Vimont regarding Israel’s refusal to attend. Palestine has agreed to attend if the conference is held.