France presents plan to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe presented a peace plan to the Palestinian Authority Thursday during a visit to Ramallah, meant to revive stalled talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The peace plan, Juppe said, is largely based on U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech last month, which called for a resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations based on 1967 borders with agreed land swaps.

However, while Obama focused on guaranteeing Israel’s security, the French initiative is concerned with “security for the two states (Israel and Palestine),” Juppe told a news conference with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the central West Bank city.

The plan had already been shown to President Mahmoud Abbas in Rome Wednesday.

The French initiative sets a one-year deadline for resolving the issues of Jerusalem and refugees, which Obama referred to without time-lines.

Juppe said he did not expect the Palestinians to respond to his proposal immediately, adding that he was scheduled to meet later Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem to present the French plan to the prime minister as well.

“The situation here cannot continue,” he said. “We are convinced that if nothing happens between now and September, the situation will be difficult for everyone,” he said.

Juppe was referring to Palestinian plans to address the United Nations in September, asking for full membership in the UN as a state with recognized borders.

He did not specify whether France would support the proposed UN resolution, reiterating the French position, as stated by President Nicolas Sarkozy, that “if nothing happens between now and September, France would act according to its responsibilities, adding “all options are open.”

Juppe said he hopes the French plan, which he claims has European Union and U.S. backing, will receive further credibility during a proposed international peace conference France wants to host in late June or early July.

The conference would be an expansion of a planned economic conference, also referred to as Paris II. France wants to host the economic conference in June in order to enlist aid for the Palestinian Authority for the next three years, according to Fayyad.

The Paris II conference “is primarily a Palestinian interest,” said Fayyad in response to a question if the PA would accept an invitation to the proposed international peace conference. 

“We also want it to have very clear political dimensions that would lead to the one thing we all want, and that is an end to the Israeli occupation and the establishment of the independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” the Palestinian prime minister said.
Juppe said he expected Palestinians and Israelis to take time to discuss the French peace plan before responding to it. Official Palestinian sources told the German Press-Agency DPA that Abbas told Juppe after the Rome meeting he will convene with the Palestinian leadership to discuss the plan before he gives his final answer.

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