JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Sunday rebuffed the French idea of restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with international support and the backing of a United Nations Security Council resolution.
Speaking at a joint news conference with France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, who was visiting the region to advance the French-led initiative, Mr. Netanyahu said: “Peace will only come from direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions. It will not come from U.N. resolutions that are sought to be imposed from the outside.”
Earlier on Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu had employed sharper language, telling his cabinet ministers in broadcast remarks, “We strongly reject attempts to force international diktat on us in regard to both security and peace.”
These international efforts, Mr. Netanyahu added, failed to address “the security needs of the state of Israel and our other national interests.”
With peace talks stalled for more than a year, France has been sounding out the possibility of beginning the process with the help of Arab states, the European Union and Security Council members, supported by a Security Council resolution that would set parameters for new negotiations on Palestinian statehood and perhaps establish a time frame for them.
Mr. Fabius asked that his effort not be prejudged.
After meeting with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Mr. Fabius warned that lack of progress could result in an explosion of violence in the area. “If we are to succeed, we must discuss these ideas without prior judgment,” he said, according to the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, adding that the goal was “to achieve an independent Palestinian state and security for the state of Israel.”
Mr. Fabius said that the word “diktat” was not part of the French vocabulary or the French proposals.
In Jerusalem, Mr. Fabius tried to soften the tone of the disagreement, emphasizing that there was no substitute for bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. But he added that international organizations have an important role to play in promoting new peace talks.
Underlining the deep rift between the Israeli and Palestinian sides, Riad al-Malki, the foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority government, said the Palestinians welcomed the French effort and would do whatever was necessary to help it succeed.
Mr. Fabius met on Saturday in Cairo with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and with a committee of Arab foreign ministers.
On Sunday, Egypt announced that it was sending a new ambassador to Israel; the last one was recalled in late 2012. Mohamed Morsi, the Islamist president of Egypt who was deposed in 2013, withdrew the ambassador to protest an Israeli offensive against militant groups in Gaza.
Mr. Netanyahu described the Egyptian announcement as “an important piece of news,” saying that it was “deeply welcomed in Israel.”
In a reminder of the simmering tensions in the area, a Palestinian resident of the West Bank stabbed an Israeli paramilitary police officer in the neck and chest, severely wounding him, at a busy gateway to the Old City in East Jerusalem on Sunday. The wounded officer shot the assailant, who was said to be about 18 years old. Both were taken to a hospital in critical condition, according to the police.
The episode came two days after an Israeli man was killed and another injured by a Palestinian gunman in the occupied West Bank, adding to fears of an uptick in violence during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began Thursday.
In an effort to reduce some of the pressure on the Palestinians, Israel said it was relaxing some restrictions on their movement during Ramadan, providing shuttle buses from West Bank cities to bring Muslim worshipers to Friday prayer at Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and assisting in family visits among Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel.
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(via NY Times)