French President condemns ‘settlement construction’
During meeting with PA chairman in Paris, Macron says Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria has reached “unprecedented levels”.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday condemned Israeli “settlement construction” during a meeting in Paris with Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Expressing concern about the “deteriorating situation” unfolding in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, and Gaza, Macron said that the continued “absence of a political horizon feeds despair and extremism,” according to comments quoted by i24news.
He reiterated France’s position that “there is no viable alternative to a two-state solution,” and said Israel’s “settlement building” has reached “unprecedented levels” since the beginning of the year.
Abbas, for his part, claimed his government is ready to sign a peace agreement and is waiting on Israel’s response.
The PA chairman said that the OA government expressed to U.S. President Donald Trump its willingness to work towards a peace agreement, but claimed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has yet to offer a response.
Abbas reaffirmed his desire to “work with Donald Trump to reach a historic peace agreement on the basis of a two-state solution, based on the 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as the capital of our own independent state,” according to i24news.
“We are still waiting for the Israeli response,” he said, ignoring the US government’s insistence that he stop payinig salaries to convicted terrorist murderers and their families.
The meeting comes amid efforts by Trump to relaunch the peace talks between Israel and the PA, which have been at a standstill since 2014,when an initiative by then-Secretary of State John Kerry failed after the PA unilaterally applied to join international institutions.
Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner, his Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem Donald Blome, recently visited Ramallah and met with Abbas. Reports said that shouts could be heard from outside the meeting room, as Kushner reiterated the US demand to cease paying terrorists.
In a statement summarizing the meeting, however, the White House described it as “productive”, adding the sides “reaffirmed their commitment to advancing President Trump’s goal of a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians that enhances stability in the region.”
Despite his claims that Netanyahu won’t answer his call for talks, Abbas has rejected calls by Israel to sit down for direct negotiations, choosing instead to impose preconditions on such talks.