16:51 GMT +319 January 2020
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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Thursday a French initiative of holding a ministerial meeting in a bid to relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, claiming it would only distance the sides.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Last week, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced that ministers of 20 countries would take part in a meeting in Paris on May 30 aiming to relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Neither Israeli nor Palestinian officials will be attending the event.

    "Israel adheres to the position that the best way to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is direct, bilateral negotiations. All other political initiatives distance the Palestinians from the negotiating table," Netanyahu’s office said in a statement, as quoted by the Jerusalem Post newspaper.

    In late January, Ayrault's predecessor, Laurent Fabius, outlined plans to arrange an international conference in the coming months to help resume the stalled Israeli-Palestinian talks, stressing that France would be prepared to recognize Palestinian statehood if the talks yielded no results amid the new wave of violence in the region in late 2015.

    Palestinians seek diplomatic recognition of their independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, partially occupied by Israel, and the Gaza Strip. Israel has been building settlements on the occupied territories, despite objection from the United Nations.


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