France Would Delay Peace Conference for Kerry

YERUSHALAYIM -

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Sunday that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken positively of the French Mideast peace initiative, and that France would be willing to reschedule the meeting of foreign ministers, currently scheduled for May 30, so that Kerry could attend.

The United States has been circumspect about the French entry into Mideast peace brokering, until now the province of the U.S. Washington has expressed no support for it publicly and has not yet said whether it will send a representative.

Ayrault told reporters that American participation was important enough to justify delaying the ministerial meeting to accommodate U.S. attendees.

“The issue here won’t be a technical one,” he said.

The foreign minister also said that he was almost ready to announce the list of countries that will be attending.

He said that the preparations include drafting various position papers that will help determine the goals of the summit, as well as reach a consensus regarding the situation on the ground. After the foreign ministers’ meeting, working groups, each led by a different country attending the summit, will address one core issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande tried to patch up relations with Israel on another front, sending a letter to leaders of the local Jewish community, saying that the government’s support for a UNESCO resolution which ignored any Jewish connection to Har HaBayis was the result of a “misunderstanding.”

In the letter, Hollande pledged not to support any similar resolutions in the future. The French leader’s letter, sent on Wednesday, followed a letter from Prime Minister Netanyahu to Hollande at the beginning of last week in which he protested France’s support for the UNESCO resolution.