Diplomacy & defense
"A negotiated solution with two states," is the only way to a achieve a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a draft document prepared for Sunday's peace conference in Paris says, according to the Associated Press.
AP obtained a copy of the document which states that "a negotiated solution with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, is the only way to achieve enduring peace."
Sunday's conference, which is set to host representatives of some 70 nations, is aimed at exploring ways to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
The conference, scheduled just five days before President-elect Donald Trump takes office in the White House, also comes in the wake of a rare and momentous abstention by the United States which enabled the passing of a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel's settlement policy.
According to AP, the draft also states that the summit will call upon Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "to officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution."
While the Palestinians have welcomed the French initiative, Israel has been from the beginning firmly opposed, saying it will not attend and arguing that only direct bilateral negotiations can be successful.
Netanyahu is concerned that the conference will lead to another resolution concerning the conflict to be put before the United Nations, and has called the summit "rigged".
The international community "will not recognize" alterations to Israel's pre-1967 borders unless both the Israelis and the Palestinians agree to it, said AP, quoting the draft. Netanyahu has rejected propositions of returning to 1967 lines in the past.
While the draft puts an emphasis on the two sides being involved in the negotiating process, neither Israel nor the Palestinian leadership will attend the talks on January 15.
Negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians have been at a standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.
Israel's UN ambassador raises concerns over new resolution
Israel's UN ambassador on Friday raised concern over what he said were moves at the Security Council to adopt a new measure to build on the Paris Middle East conference.
Sweden's Ambassador Olof Skoog, who holds this month's presidency of the Security Council, said however that there were no immediate plans for council action.
"We are witnessing an attempt to promote a last-minute initiative before the new US administration takes office," Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement.
"Supporters of the Palestinians are looking for further anti-Israel measures at the Security Council."
The council is planning to meet on Tuesday to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, its first meeting since the adoption of a resolution demanding an end to the construction of settlements on Palestinian territory.
Asked about discussions on council action, Skoog said "I don't think that's correct."
"Let's see where we are next Tuesday, the main event now is Sunday's conference in Paris."
(Staff with agencies)