The Washington Post reports: French officials said Sunday that they will continue to press ahead with plans to host a multilateral Middle East peace conference later this year, despite hearing, in blunt language, that Israel doesn’t really like the idea.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to promote what diplomats are calling the “French Initiative,” a still evolving and admittedly vague diplomatic project that seeks to bring global attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and find consensus among the international community on how to move forward with a two-state solution.
The French are planning to host about 30 foreign ministers — from Europe and the Middle East as well as Russia, China and India — at a preparatory meeting at the end of this month, which could lead to a peace conference later this year.
Neither Israel nor the Palestinians, who support the French Initiative, will attend the May meeting in Paris.
U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry has not said whether he would be there.
Israeli officials have been pressing Washington to pour cold water on the French effort, which seeks to fill the vacuum left behind by the Obama administration, which declared that it would not be making any major move to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. [Continue reading…]