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France proposes Mid East peace conference in July

Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

France is ready to organise a Middle East peace conference before the end of July, Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppé said Thursday on a visit to Ramallah. He dubbed the current stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians “untenable”.

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The French are ready to transform an international donors’ conference due to be held in Paris into a “broader political conference involving the negotiation process” if the international Middle East Quartet so requests, Juppé said.

 Who is in the Middle East Quartet?

  • the United Nations
  • the United States
  • the European Union
  • Russia

And he warned that the “situation will be very difficult for the whole world” if there are no advances in Israeli-Palestinian relations before September.

The Palestinian Authority has said it will ask for United Nations recognition of an independent state in September.

Negotiations ended in September 2010 when a partial freeze of Jewish settlement construction expired. Israel refused to renew it and the Palestinians have refused to talk while settlement building goes ahead.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

Juppé proposes that new talks should be in two stages:

  • The first would discuss security and borders, based on the 1967 lines, assuming that there would be mutually agreed land swaps;
  • The second would discuss control of Jerusalem and the issue of Palestinian refugees and would be completed within a year from its beginning.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has hinted that France may recognise a Palestinian state in September if “the peace process is still dead”.

Juppé said that he told Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas about the initiative on Wednesday in Rome, where world leaders have gathered to mark the founding of the Italian republic.

He then flew to Israel and met Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

On Thursday he met Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah before meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

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