Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Friday called on French President Francois Hollande to cancel or, at least, postpone the international meeting on Middle East peace his country has scheduled for January 15, 2017 in Paris.
In a statement, Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents, called the planned conference “ill-conceived, poorly timed and damaging to prospects for peace.”
“In the aftermath of adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which was a significant step backward in achieving direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, and Secretary Kerry’s speech on Middle East Peace earlier this week, the international community should not plunge forward with the ill-conceived and poorly timed Paris conference,” they said.
“Now is a time for serious reflection on how peace can best be achieved, not for another sham forum in which the usual one-sided outcomes against Israel are the likeliest result. Given the significant issues that were raised in the past week which have long term implications for the prospects for peace, proper preparation after serious consultation is essential,” added Greenberg and Hoenlein.
“There are a number of compelling reasons to postpone the conference, including the impending transition to a new U.S. administration on January 20,” the pointed out. “It makes no sense that the next administration is precluded from participating in a discussion of an essential component of U.S. foreign policy with which it will be engaged. Possible outcomes would add further uncertainty that will harm future prospects while unnecessarily inserting a new element of instability to the region.
“While we have received a written assurance that the U.S. will veto any further Security Council resolutions regarding Middle East peace, it may not be able to prevent a damaging outcome of the Paris conference. We urge the U.S. to announce that it will not participate at this time, in light of all the above considerations,” said Greenberg and Hoenlein.
“We call on leaders of all the invited countries, as well as members of the administration and Congress to work to cancel the Paris meeting and refocus on the parties coming together for direct negotiations without pre-conditions. Israel has long sought direct talks, it is time for the Palestinian leaders to stop evading their responsibility and seeking to use international fora to avoid the only true path to a lasting peace,” they concluded.
France has been making ongoing efforts to resume Israel-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace talks which have been at a standstill for more than two years.
Israel has long opposed the French initiative, explaining that the only way to reach a peace agreement is through direct talks with the PA, which the PA refuses, choosing instead to impose preconditions on talks.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told French President Francois Hollande that he was willing to meet PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas “directly, without preconditions”.
Instead of accepting Netanyahu’s invitation for direct talks, Abbas this week yet again imposed preconditions on talks.
In a statement published shortly after Kerry’s speech on the Middle East, Abbas said he was ready to resume peace efforts with Israel “the minute the Israeli government agrees to cease all settlement activities.”