Netanyahu Rejects International “Dictates”

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (R) is welcomed by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki upon Fabius’ arrival in Ramallah on Sunday. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (R) is welcomed by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki upon Fabius’ arrival in Ramallah on Sunday. (REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prefaced talks about a French-led peace initiative on Sunday by saying foreign powers were trying to dictate terms to Israel for a deal with the Palestinians.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, on a two-day visit to the Middle East, urged Israel not to prejudge his efforts and warned of the dangers of continued stalemate.

Netanyahu, in public remarks at the weekly cabinet meeting, said “international proposals they are trying to force upon us” did not take into account Israel’s security needs.

“They are trying to shunt us toward indefensible borders, ignoring what will happen on the other side,” Netanyahu said, arguing that terrorists would take over areas vacated by Israel unless strong security arrangements were negotiated.

However, at a press conference after his meeting with Netanyahu on Sunday evening, Fabius said the talks with both sides were “very friendly.”

Fabius wants to see the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which collapsed in 2014, relaunched through an international support group comprising Arab states, the European Union and U.N. Security Council members.

At a news conference in the Palestinian city of Ramallah, Fabius said the conflict could be “set ablaze” if there was no movement toward peace.

“The aim is to present a number of ideas and I haven’t done that yet, so let’s not prejudge,” he said, speaking alongside his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki.

France has so far focused with Arab states on a possible U.N. Security Council resolution that would set negotiating parameters and establish a timeframe to complete talks.

Netanyahu said that “the only way to reach agreements is through negotiations between the two sides, and we will firmly reject attempts to force international dictates on us.”

But Fabius responded: “This word ‘diktat’ is part of neither French vocabulary nor the French proposals.”

At the news conference with Fabius in Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said he supported efforts to revive the talks given the regional geopolitical situation.

After meeting key Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo, Fabius said they had agreed to press ahead with the initiative and work towards creating the international contact group.

“If there is an agreement … then this could manifest itself in September,” he said.