Middle East

Israel rejects French peace effort proposal

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a statement after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Friday, April 15, 2016. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets French President Francois Hollande to discuss France’s recent push to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a statement after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Friday, April 15, 2016. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets French President Francois Hollande to discuss France’s recent push to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has rejected a French initiative aimed at restarting peace efforts with the Palestinians, saying direct negotiations are the best way to reach a final agreement between the sides.

Paris is to host an international meeting in May of 20 countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, to discuss the peace process. Israel and the Palestinians have not been invited.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Thursday that “Israel adheres to its position that the best way to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is direct, bilateral negotiations. Israel is ready to begin them immediately without preconditions.”

The Palestinians have welcomed the French proposal.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinians peace talks, mediated by the U.S., collapsed in 2014.

 

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a statement after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Friday, April 15, 2016. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets French President Francois Hollande to discuss France’s recent push to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a statement after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, Friday, April 15, 2016. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets French President Francois Hollande to discuss France’s recent push to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.(AP Photo/Michel Euler)