Palestinian FM Says No More Direct Negotiations With Israel as Netanyahu Pans French Peace Initiative
The Palestinian Authority will never again sit down to conduct direct negotiations with Israel, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said in a press conference during an official visit to Japan on Tuesday.
A source close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Maliki’s statement, telling Israel’s Army Radio, “We know that peace will be achieved through direct negotiations. In all likelihood, the Palestinians are aware of this; hence they don’t want it.”
The last direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations took place over the course of nine months between 2013-2014, following an initiative by US Secretary of State John Kerry. The negotiations ended with little progress, and war soon broke out between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Maliki’s comments also came as Netanyahu led a ministerial delegation for government-to-government meetings in Berlin, including talks over the Palestinian issue. Among his public remarks, the Israeli premier criticized a recent French proposal for an international peace conference, which the PA has welcomed.
“The French initiative, as it has been published, is curious,” said Netanyahu, according to a press release from the Government Press Office.
“It says: We will hold an international conference but if you do not succeed we are already predetermining the result – we will recognize a Palestinian state. It does not matter if this state could become another Islamic dictatorship, one of many in the Middle East,” he said. It does not matter if it will not genuinely commit to ending the conflict and recognizing the state of the Jews. It does not matter if there will not be security arrangements that will prevent the capturing of territory that Israel would be due to evacuate by Daesh [ISIS] or Hamas or both of them.”
“Of course this ensures that this conference will fail,” he continued, “because if the Palestinians know that their demand will be met a priori, and they do not need to do anything, then there is certainly an internal contradiction here, because they will not do anything.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, meanwhile, warned that the situation in the West Bank “cannot be sustained for long,” according to Israeli Channel 10. He also condemned what he called the “loathsome terrorism” that Israel has been facing since October last year, when the nearly daily stabbings, shootings and car-rammings against Israeli security forces and civilians took off.