Clinton puts the kybosh on Paris peace summit: Israel

7th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

France's proposal to host a Middle East peace summit has no chance of succeeding given the cool reception it got from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a senior Israeli official said Tuesday.

"The fate of this initiative has been sealed by the statements made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton," he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"In any case, the idea of having such a conference wouldn't have been possible without American agreement and huge support in Israel, which was missing," he said.

"Israel -- which has been very reluctant from the start about the French initiative without actually closing the door -- would have only considered taking part in this conference if Washington had provided guarantees," he said, without clarifying further.

After meeting French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe in Washington on Monday, Clinton said there was no point in having a conference about resuming peace talks without willingness on both parts to actually return to the negotiating table.

"There is no agreement that the parties will resume negotiations. And I think the idea of any gathering, a conference or a meeting, has to be linked to a willingness by the parties to resume negotiating," she said.

"We strongly support a return to negotiations but we do not think that it would be productive for there to be a conference about returning to negotiations," Clinton added.

"So right now we are still in a wait-and-see attitude, because we don't yet have any assurance from either party that they would return to negotiations."

On a visit to the region last week, Juppe proposed that Paris would host a political conference to relaunch stalled negotiations which would take place before the end of July.

Although Israel has yet to respond to the initiative, officials have expressed reservations about the French proposal, which would see peace talks resumed on the basis of the 1967 borders -- a concept which Israel has repeatedly rejected.

In contrast, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has said he would be ready to attend such a summit if Israel agreed to talks based on the 1967 borders.

© 2011 AFP

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