30 countries gather in Paris for Middle East peace confab


President Francois Hollande of France

President Francois Hollande of France
President Francois Hollande of France
Representatives from 30 countries were on Friday meeting in Paris to begin talks on pursuing peace in the Middle East, without the Israelis and Palestinians in attendance.

French Foreign Ministry said the goal was simply to begin a process that would bring everyone back to the table by the end of the year.

It said that the French-led negotiations were an attempt to build support for conditions that would eventually bring the sides together, a little more than two years after the last bid to broker a long-lasting truce collapsed.

Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, who travelled recently to meet with Netanyahu and Palestinian leaders, has said the deteriorating security situation puts the prospect of peace further at risk.

He said “two states, that’s the goal, a state of Israel that lives in absolute security and a state of Palestine.

“At the moment, this perspective gets dimmer every day and without peace in Israel and Palestinian there would be no security,’’ he said.

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Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has blasted the effort, saying that direct negotiations without preconditions are the only way to move forward in a conflict that has been the subject of repeated peace deal attempts over the decades.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has called for parameters like a stricter timetable for the implementation of any agreements.

He also expressed scepticism about the outcome of direct bilateral talks with Israel.

“We have been talking with the Israelis for 20 years and nothing has been achieved.

The observers have expressed tentative optimism about the latest efforts spearheaded by the French, if only because the aims have been kept so modest.