France keen on international Mideast conference

France said on September 20 that it is keen to organize a peace conference before 2016 ends to present an incentives filled package for both Palestinians and Israelis. The incentives will be valid only if the two goes for a peace agreement. This scheme was announced by Paris at the sidelines of annual ministerial meeting of the UN General Assembly. Jean Marc Ayrault, the French Foreign Minister, told the media that the week should be used in political mobilization so that the goal can be reached.

The push by Ayrault for the French international conference comes in the heels of a Russian Foreign Ministry announcement that Palestinian and Israeli leaders have consented “in principle” to hold a meeting in Moscow to hold talks. Russia made this announcement on September 8.  The massive schism between President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel has led doubts to be raised about the incidence of any meeting. In case a meeting is held, there is ample doubt whether it will be successful or not.

The Palestinian President has demanded that all settlement construction by the Israelis in West Bank and East Jerusalem be halted. He also demanded that a number of Palestinian prisoners must be freed prior to any meeting. Such meetings were summarily rejected by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

According to the French Minister, a number of countries, including Egypt and United States strive to restart discussions between Palestinians and Israelis. He told the media that he told the countries that all efforts complement the initiative by the French. Incidentally an international meeting was held at Paris by France in June. In attendance were a number of Arab and Western nations. All efforts were made to formulate a new strategy for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and Middle East peace process. Such initiatives were dead for more than two years. The Palestinian and Israeli leaders were not part of the invite. The prospect of such a conference with both Israel and Palestine was welcomed by all participants. A closed meeting was hosted by Ayrault for the officials from countries which attended the conference in June. Russia has tried a number of times to hold such a meeting between the two warring nations but the Russian Foreign Ministry provided no agenda or date for future get together. Much of the peace processes in the Middle East was held by United States since Oslo Accords were signed in 1990s.

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