Paris Middle East Peace Conference endorses two-state solution

Participants in the Paris Peace Conference, January 15, 2017 (Photo: screenshot)

Representatives and officials from over 75 states and international bodies met in Paris on Sunday, calling for Israel and the Palestinians to resume negotiations and pursue a two-state solution to find a “just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The representatives and diplomats welcomed the recent adoption of Resolution 2334 that labels Israeli settlements as illegal and condemns Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Emphasis was placed on the “Palestinians’ right to statehood and sovereignty”, as well as a call for the end of “the occupation that begin in 1967”.

The conference also welcomed United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s “principles on a two-state solution” as well as suggestions and recommendations given by the Quartet from July of 2016.

Representatives from the European Union addressed the option of a “European privileged partnership” in order to assist the Palestinian Authority economy and infrastructure, as well as support for the “Palestinian steps to exercise their responsibilities of statehood through consolidating their institutions and institutional capacities.”

Foreign ministers of the European Union are to meet on Monday to follow up on Sunday’s conference, with the United Nations Security Council to convene on Tuesday, the concern of many that the Council would use solutions and suggestions from the Paris conference and adopt them into law.

The United Kingdom sent junior diplomats to the conference and reportedly did not sign the conference’s declaration, attending the conference as observers and not participants. A spokesman for the Prime Minister May stated “We will continue to support efforts to improve conditions on the ground to enable negotiations to resume and look forward to working with the parties, the new US Administration and other countries represented in this conference to make progress in 2017 and beyond.”

Ahead of the conference, Britain’s Foreign Office stated that it has “particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them”, emphasizing the conference “taking place against the wishes of the Israelis” as well as it taking “place just days before the transition to a new American President when the US will be the ultimate guarantor of any agreement”, President-elect Donald Trump calling on the United Kingdom to veto any attempted resolutions against the State of Israel at the United Nations Security Council ahead of Friday’s inauguration.

The conference participants released a declaration in which they “call on each side to independently demonstrate, through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solutions and refrain from unilateral steps that prejudge the outcome of negotiations on final status issues, including, inter alia, on Jerusalem, borders, security, refugees and which they will not recognize.” The declaration also welcomes “closer cooperation between the Quartet and Arab League members” and announced a follow-up conference for the end of 2017.

Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that efforts were made to protect Israel from any bias, Kerry contacting Prime Minister Netanyahu ahead of the conference. He stated that “We [participants] came in here and where we thought it was unbalanced and where we thought it was not expressing the kind of unity that I talked about, we fought to address it. We didn’t soften it. We did what was necessary to have a balanced resolution. And if you look at it, it speaks in positive ways, rather than negative, to both sides.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the conference ahead of it taking place on Sunday morning, stating “The conference which is gathering today in Paris is a worthless and empty conference. Its only purpose is to attempt to force Israel to agree to conditions which do not aid Israel’s national interests. This conference also harms the chance for peace, since it strengthens the Palestinians’ refusal to negotiate and allows them to ignore the need for compromise without preconditions. I must say this conference is one of the last palpitations of yesterday’s world. Tomorrow will be different, and tomorrow is very close.”

This article originally appeared on Behold Israel, January 16, 2017, and reposted with permission.