Midest talks must resume by September: France

1st June 2011, Comments 0 comments

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace talks by September or face "consequences," after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Rome on Wednesday.

"If nothing happens by September, France... has already said that there will be consequences," Juppe told reporters at the close of the talks.

"The deadline is September. Something absolutely must happen by September."

The talks have been on hold since September 2010, when they ground to a halt over Israeli settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land.

Juppe is to travel on to Israel and the Palestinian territories with a message from President Nicolas Sarkozy telling both sides that peace is now within reach and that the current Middle East stalemate is untenable.

"We French -- and with us the whole of Europe -- are convinced... that maintaining the status quo in the Middle East would be an error," he said.

"Everything is changing in the region, in Egypt, Syria... it's time to take the initiative again," he added.

Juppe stressed that the talks would be based on the 1967 borders, the recognition of Israel and its right to live in peace and security.

"Perhaps at a later point of the talks we can address the difficult question of refugees and Jerusalem," he said.

The Palestinians' key negotiator Saeb Erakat, who was present at the meeting between Juppe and Abbas, said that the priority for Palestinians was to restart talks with Israel.

"We hope that the Israeli government can announce its acceptance of two states on the basis of '67 borders," he said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already rejected the suggestion.

"If it cannot do that then... we are left with no alternative but to go to the (UN) Security Council for admittance," he said.

© 2011 AFP

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