Israel renews opposition to French peace initiative
Israel on Thursday reiterated its opposition to a planned French peace conference, calling instead for direct and unconditional negotiations with the Palestinians.
"The best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is direct, bilateral negotiations," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement.
"Israel is ready to begin them immediately without preconditions. Any other diplomatic initiative distances the Palestinians from direct negotiations."
France has attempted to revive the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, seeking to organise an international peace conference.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced last week that Paris is to host a meeting of ministers from 20 countries on May 30 to prepare for the conference.
The proposal has been welcomed by the Palestinians, who suspended a planned UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements to focus on the bid.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas toured Europe to encourage support for the French proposal.
But Israel has consistently argued that peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the two sides, rather than international forums.
The peace process has been frozen since a US-brokered initiative collapsed in April 2014.
© 2016 AFP