Conference on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

France’s president said yesterday that spiralling Middle East upheaval since the collapse of the round of Israel-Palestinian peace talks has complicated the process and makes it even more urgent to bring the two sides back to the table.

Conference on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

With US efforts to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace in deep freeze for two years and Washington focused on its November presidential election, France lobbied for an international conference that began yesterday with the aim of breaking the apathy over the impasse.

While Palestinians have supported the French initiative, Israeli officials have said it is doomed to fail and that only direct negotiations can lead to a solution to the generations-old conflict.

Neither Israel nor the Palestinians have been invited, though the objective is to get them to negotiate after the US elections.

“The discussion on the conditions for peace between Israelis and Palestinians must take into account the entire region,” François Hollande told delegates at the conference in Paris.

“The threats and priorities have changed,” he said, alluding to escalating Middle East conflict that has engulfed Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey’s mostly Kurdish southeast, and the spread of Islamic State insurgents through the region.

“The changes make it even more urgent to find a solution to the conflict, and this regional upheaval creates new obligations for peace,” Mr Hollande said.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said that it was the duty of international and regional players to find a breakthrough as the sides seemed incapable of doing so alone.

“The policy of settlement expansion and demolitions, violence, and incitement tells us very clearly that the perspective that Oslo opened up is seriously at risk of fading away,” Ms Mogherini told reporters.

The interim 1993 Oslo peace accords were meant to yield a Palestinian state in Israeli-occupied territory within five years.

She said the Middle East Quartet of the EU, Russia, the US and UN was finalising recommendations on what should be done to create incentives and guarantees for Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate in good faith.

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