Paris Summit warns against unilateral solution to ME conflict

Paris

A conference for peace in the Middle East on Sunday warned Israel and the Palestinians against “unilateral steps” on Jerusalem and borders that could threaten a negotiated solution to their seven-decade conflict.
Around 70 countries attending the Paris talks called on the two sides to avoid steps that “prejudge the outcome of negotiations on final status issues, including inter alia, Jerusalem, borders, security, refugees.”
The participants in the conference “will not recognise” such steps, they warned.
They also said that the basis for the negotiations should be the 1967 borders, before Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told a press conference.
France organised the gathering to reaffirm global support for a Palestinian state existing alongside an Israeli state — a scenario the Palestinians fear could be jeopardised by Donald Trump´s incoming US administration.
Neither Israel nor the Palestinians attended the conference, which the Palestinians supported but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed as “futile”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, who attended the talks on his farewell tour, said he had negotiated to prevent Israel being treated unfairly.
“We did what was necessary to have a balanced resolution,” Kerry told reporters.
Ayrault told a press conference that the participants had set out the 1967 frontiers as the basis for final-status negotiations. “The basis is the 1967 borders and the major UN resolutions,” he said.
The conference comes as Trump´s campaign pledge to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem sparks fears of a major escalation in the Middle East.
Ayrault said such a move, which would support Israel´s claim that Jerusalem is its capital, would be a “provocation”.
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has warned it would “destroy” peace efforts.
The Palestinians regard Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel proclaims the entire city as its capital. The status of the city is one of the thorniest issues in the conflict.
The conference was mainly symbolic, but comes at a crucial juncture for the Middle East, five days before Trump is sworn in as president.. —AFP

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