Israel reiterates opposition to France peace conference
JERUSALEM - Israel on Monday reiterated its firm opposition to a French plan to hold an international conference before the end of the year to restart long-stalled peace efforts with the Palestinians.
France's envoy for the plan, Pierre Vimont, is currently back in the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials.
On Monday in Jerusalem, he met Israeli acting national security adviser Jacob Nagel and diplomatic envoy Yitzhak Molcho.
The Israeli officials called for "direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority" and said "any other initiative only pushes the region further away from this process," according to a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office.
"It was made clear to the French envoy that Israel will not participate in any international conference convened contrary to its position."
The statement added that "promoting such a conference will make the possibility of advancing the peace process much less likely since it will allow (Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas) and the Palestinian Authority to continue avoiding the decision to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions."
The Palestinians strongly support France's international approach, saying years of negotiations with the Israelis have not ended the occupation.
Netanyahu has spoken out against "international diktats" and repeatedly called for direct negotiations.
Peace efforts have been at a complete standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.
Netanyahu has expressed concern that President Barack Obama could break with recent US practice before leaving office in January and support -- or at least not veto -- a UN Security Council resolution laying out parameters for resolving the conflict.