French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (AP/A.M. Ahad) (AP/A.M. Ahad)
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius

Israel said it refuses to negotiate under ultimatum in response to France’s threat, despite the wave of Palestinian terror, to recognize the “state of Palestine.”

France will recognize a Palestinian state if its efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at an international conference fail, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Friday.

He told French diplomats that the conference will aim to bring together the two parties and their American, European and Arab partners in order “to make happen a two-state solution.”

If this attempt faces a deadlock, Fabius said, France will have to recognize a Palestinian state.

“This is not how one conducts negotiations and not how one makes peace,” the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office stated, Ha’aretz reported. Many in government circles say this latest ultimatum to Israel encourages the Palestinian Authority (PA) to be unbending in its demands, according to unnamed sources.

The French threat to Israel was made amidst a wave of Palestinian terror against Jews in Israel, in which 29 victims have been killed and close to 300 wounded – 25 seriously.

baby who lost leg in terror attack

18-month-old Yotam Sitbon lost his leg when a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into pedestrians in Jerusalem in December. (Courtesy)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly invited PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations, but to no avail. Instead, he has been making unilateral moves to force a solution upon Israel, and his government has been inciting terror.

Fabius’ announcement comes as the Palestinians, buoyed by the Iran nuclear deal and the start of U.N.-mediated talks on Syria, have been exploring steps that could lead to a two-state solution without direct negotiations, including an international conference and a Security Council resolution that would demand an end to construction of homes in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, or what they call “illegal Israeli settlement building.”

“Israel will not negotiate under threat,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz stated on Saturday.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, told AP: “The Palestinian leadership does welcome the announcement of foreign minister Fabius today in Paris in connection with the convening of an international conference in the next few weeks, and if things fail the recognition of the state of Palestine by France.”

“I think the objective of this conference … has to be to open the process that would lead to the end of the occupation and the preservation of the two-state solution,” he said.

fabius and netanyahu

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at PM’s residence in Jerusalem in August. (Marc Israel Sellem/GPO/Flash90)

As for recognition, Mansour said, “France promised us some time ago that if there is no opening for a meaningful political process — a collective process that would lead to the end of occupation and independence of the state of Palestine and therefore saving the two-state solution soon — then they will recognize the state of Palestine.”

He said the Palestinians wanted recognition from France “some time ago,” noting that the French parliament has unanimously recommended recognizing the “state of Palestine.”

“And we hope that they do that,” Mansour said. “If they are tying it to the political process, that is their thinking. But eventually if you believe in a two-state solution, then recognizing the state of Palestine is an investment.”

Earlier on Friday, at U.N. headquarters in New York, Mansour said the nuclear talks on Iran and talks on Syria, Yemen and Libya have spurred the Palestinians to seek a broader international framework to try to settle the decades-old conflict with Israel. “This is a new culture — and why shouldn’t that spread to the Palestinian issue?,” he asked.

Mansour said the Palestinians don’t accept that in 2016 “the door is closed” and that nothing can be done to make progress toward a two-state solution because of the U.S. presidential election in November.

He said that’s why he has been engaging all 15 members of the Security Council, including the United States, as well as the U.N. Secretariat and other “friends,” on their readiness to take steps — especially since virtually all members at the last Mideast meeting spoke out against Israeli settlement building.

Mansour commended Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “for characterizing correctly the settlements as illegal, illegitimate and a major obstacle to peace.” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Ban’s remarks justify terrorism.

Funeral of terror victim

Relatives and wife of Aharon Yesiab, 32, one of two Israelis killed recently in a terror attack in Tel Aviv, at the funeral. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

“As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to ‘occupation,’” the UN chief said, thereby placing the blame for Palestinian terror on Israeli policies.

“The UN Secretary General’s remarks give a tailwind to terrorism,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in response. “There is no justification for terrorism. The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state – they want to destroy a state and they say this openly. They want to murder Jews simply because they are Jews, and they say this openly. They do not murder for peace and they do not murder for human rights.”

Besides a new resolution on settlements and an international conference, Mansour said he has raised the French idea of “a support group” of other countries to promote progress toward peace, an expansion of the Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., U.N., European Union and Russia.

He said adoption of a Security Council resolution would be “a signal” that the council and key world powers want to end the conflict and see an independent Palestinian state.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff

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