Paris has rejected a suggestion by Israel that France is not impartial in supporting a renewed peace initiative between Israelis and Palestinians.
Netanyahu’s snub was revealed as he briefed cabinet ministers of his talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault ahead of a conference on 30 May aimed at reviving the moribund peace process.
The Israeli PM noted France’s support for a “scandalous” UNESCO resolution, adopted last month, which condemned Israel for its actions at Temple Mount in the holy city, but which failed to recognise Jewish links to the site.
“[It] casts a shadow over the impartiality of the entire forum France is trying to convene,” said Netanyahu. “I told him that the only way to advance true peace between us and the Palestinians is through direct talks, without preconditions.”
Ayrault responded, saying: “France has no vested interest, but is deeply convinced that if we don’t want to let the ideas of the Islamic State group prosper in this region, we must do something.”
It is unclear whether U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the conference. He spent months shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah in 2013-14 in an attempt to build momentum for talks, but Israeli settlement building and Palestinian applications to international fora halted progress.