France Pushes for New Peacemaking Framework

PARIS (Reuters/Hamodia) -

France’s foreign minister said on Thursday he will go to Israel and PA territories in late June, in hopes of consolidating an international consensus for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would set parameters for peace talks.

“We are for a two-state solution. We need to ensure Israel’s security, that’s obvious. There is no peace and security without justice for the Palestinians. But let’s be frank: justice hasn’t been given to the Palestinians,” Laurent Fabius told France Inter radio.

France recently handed a working document to Arab League countries in preparation for a Security Council resolution that would set a timeframe and the exact parameters of new peace talks between Israelis and the Palestinians, French diplomats have said.

“I will go … to Egypt, the Palestinian territories and Israel to speak to their leaders,” Fabius said. “We want the negotiations to restart between the two sides and that [they are] put within an international framework.”

French diplomatic sources said the planned resolution would not go beyond already agreed negotiating points, but would set a time period of 18 to 24 months to complete the talks. It would kick off with a conference among all key stakeholders.

“The U.S. method hasn’t worked,  so we felt the idea was to create the conditions to support this negotiation by creating an international support group which would include Europeans, Arabs, Americans and anyone who thinks they could be of use,” said one senior French diplomat.

Diplomats said the United States had made it clear it did not want to discuss the Middle East process until the end of the Iran negotiations. French sources said the target could be to put a resolution forward during the United Nations General Assembly in September.

In a response later in the day, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that any agreement will necessitate a long-term Israeli presence in Yehudah and Shomron.

The real question, he told reporters, is not where the borders will be, but rather, as “what will be on the other side of that border.”

Meanwhile, former prime minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that Israel should consider unilateral disengagement from the Palestinians in the event that efforts to relaunch negotiations fail.

In an interview with Army Radio, Barak said: “I know Mahmoud Abbas and his successors, and I say that we need to try to solve this with them, and if not — to seriously consider the unilateral steps required to create an irrevocable situation of disengagement from the Palestinians.”

Barak said that such a plan would entail “marking a border inside of Israel that includes, of course, the [Israeli] blocs [in Yehudah and Shomron] and all of the neighborhoods in Yerushalayim, as well as the military presence on the Jordan River in which we have had a Jewish majority for generations, which will answer our security concerns. And alongside this an independent Palestinian state will be established.”

The interview took place on the anniversary of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, which then-prime minister Barak ordered.

He answered critics who say that the withdrawal from Lebanon made Israel seem weak and sparked the second intifada.

“The intifada broke out because we, at the time, had ruled over the Palestinians, against their will for 32 years. Those who think we can continue to rule over them for 32 more years without facing further outbursts are living in a world of illusions. They are disconnected from reality,” Barak said.

Barak’s own government fell after less than two years, lasting from July 1999 to March 2001, the shortest on record, after Yassir Arafat rejected a deal at the Camp David 2000 Summit, attended by Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak, and Yassir Arafat.