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French FM at Paris summit: France has deep connection to Israel, Palestinians

Le ministre français des Affaires étrangères Jean-Marc Ayrault à l'ouverture de la réunion sur le conflit israélo-palestinien le 15 janvier 2017 à Paris
French president says conference is not meant to impose a solution on Israelis and Palestinians

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Sunday said that France has a deep, friendly connection to Israel and for the Palestinians as he addressed press following the end of a Paris conference on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Earlier, US Secretary of State John Kerry told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from Paris that the United States was taking action to soften the final text of the statement expected to come out of the conference on Mideast peace taking place in the French capital.

Netanyahu told Kerry that the damage was already done by the Obama administration's decision not to veto United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as illegal, and said further damage must be prevented.

Kerry assured Netanyahu that there would be no follow-up to the conference and that the US will oppose any related resolution that may be pushed at the UNSC.

At the conference, French President Francois Hollande warned that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was threatened by Israeli settlements and "terrorists who were always afraid of peace" as he addressed representatives of some 70 nations at a Paris conference on Mideast peace.

Hollande further said that cynicism and skepticism towards the peace process are bolstering extremism and insisted that his country's peace initiative did not seek to impose a solution, unlike what "some argued" in what appeared to be a response to Netanyahu's criticism.

The French premier also seemed to hit back at another statement by Netanyahu by saying that the two-state solution is not a dream of yesterday but the only solution for the future.

Netanyahu earlier said that the conference represented "the last attempts by the world of yesterday." In a possible reference to the imminent inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump, he added: "Tomorrow will look different. And tomorrow is very soon."

French FM says embassy move would have 'extremely serious consequences'

Earlier Sunday, France warned that moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would result in "serious consequences."

Trump during his campaign pledged to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to relocate his country's embassy there.

Palestinians view the move as being severely destructive and a unilateral action, as the status of the city is still contested.

"Of course [it's a provocation]. I think he would not be able to do it," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in an interview with France 3 television on the sidelines of the Paris Peace Conference. "It would have extremely serious consequences and it's not the first time that it's on the agenda of a US president, but none have let themselves make that decision."

"One cannot have such a clear-cut, unilateral position. You have to create the conditions for peace," Ayrault added.

At the conference, Foreign ministers and representatives from around 70 countries, the United Nations, European Union, Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation, seek to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process, five days before Trump is to assume office.

Neither Israel nor the Palestinians will be represented at the conference and Netanyahu has dismissed the talks as "rigged" against Israel.

The Palestinians, in contrast, have welcomed France's bid for the conference to reaffirm global support for a two-state solution to the seven-decade-old conflict.

Peace efforts have been at a standstill since April 2014.

Thomas Saint-Cricq, Laurence Saubadu (AFP)

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Sunday 15 January 2017
2:43 PM
Ayrault: France has a deep and friendly connection to Israel, as for the Palestinians and Palestine
2:43 PM
Ayrault: Summit is an extended hand to both parties 'and we hope that they will know how to grasp it'
2:32 PM
French FM Ayrault says UNSC vote reflects widely shared international concern
2:23 PM
Ayrault is due to address the press shortly.
1:18 PM
US Secretary of State John Kerry has phoned Netanyahu from Paris to tell him about American actions to soften the text of the summit's resolution and promise that the US will oppose any related resolution that might be pushed at the UNSC.
12:19 PM
French Foreign Minister Ayrault is set to hold a press conference at 16:45 GMT.
11:49 AM
Hollande at peace conference: 'How can we expect stability in region without solving its oldest conflict?'
11:48 AM
French President Hollande says at conference on Mideast peace that only direct negotiations between Israel, Palestinians will lead to results
10:09 AM
Israel's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nashon tweets: "Is France 'promoting peace in the Middle East' or trying to dictate conditions to the new US president?!? A bit confusing."
8:35 AM
France says 'serious consequences' if US embassy moves to Jerusalem
8:32 AM
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz writes on Twitter that the "International community remains committed to peace in Middle East," and that there is "clear support for Two-State-Solution," which he says "can only be achieved by negotiations b/w parties."
7:57 AM
Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) says PM Netanyahu "should have attended" Paris Peace Conference to "present a clear position of Israel in the conflict and not run away from the battle."
7:44 AM
Speaking at cabinet meeting, Netanyahu says that "futile" Paris conference stands opposed to Israel's "national needs" and represents the "dying palpitations of yesterday's world."
7:25 AM
Ayrault urges world to say today that "there is no solution other the two-state solution."
7:12 AM
FM Ayrault promises "transparency" for all parties involved in peace process, says "We are prepared to present results of the conference immediately."
7:11 AM
"The goal is to put an end to this conflict so that this region can live in peace and prosperity," French FM
7:05 AM
"We are holding out a hand for those who want to come back to the negotiations," says Ayrault
6:54 AM
French FM Jean-Marc Ayrault opens Paris Peace Conference saying "France thinks it is important to renew the push for peace."



Like we to wait for the Trump presidency we also have to wait for the new French presidency before political hostility to Israel may cease.