France is said to have postponed until early next year a planned Palestinian-Israeli peace conference originally slated to be held on December 21, Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.
The Palestinian Ambassador to France, Salman el-Herfi, told Voice of Palestine radio that Paris had told the Palestinians it put off the peace conference to January in order “to make better preparations.”
El-Herfi, as reported by Palestinian radio, said that the Israeli refusal to attend the conference had nothing to do with the postponement.
France's "Mideast peace" conf—which interestingly was to ignore war in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, etc.—is postponed. https://t.co/QE0abTnlkh
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) December 14, 2016
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it very clear that he would not attend the conference, preferring direct talks with the Palestinians.
Reuters said that France had made efforts to persuade Netanyahu to attend the conference, with American attendance was still undecided.
El-Herfi said that he would meet with French officials to discuss the issue of the conference, stressing that the conference would go ahead even if the Israelis refused to participate.
— Ma'an News Agency (@MaanNewsAgency) December 14, 2016
In that eventuality, he noted, the conference would be held without either Israeli and Palestinian participation, and both sides would be called for a meeting post-conference to be briefed about the findings.
French officials were reported saying that the conference would not present new ideas for the solution of the Palestinian-Israeli issue, reiterating that the aim is to keep the issue alive amidst the different ongoing conflicts in the region.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)