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    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 15, 2016.

    Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks to Go Ahead Despite Netanyahu's Objections

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    French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault rejected Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claims that the upcoming international meeting on Israel-Palestinian conflict would not be impartial, saying that the conference would just be the beginning of the resolution process.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The conference is scheduled for May 30 in Paris. A total of 20 foreign ministers from Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia are expected to attend the meeting. Earlier in the day, Netanyahu reiterated his opposition to the format, calling for direct negotiations between the conflicting sides. He also accused France of not being impartial over Paris’ vote on a recent UNESCO resolution.

    "It’s clear to us — and I said it to Netanyhau and [Palestinian leader Mahmoud] Abbas — that we cannot fulfill the role of the two sides. They will need to carry out direct negotiations but because the process is stuck they need external help. The goal [of the conference] is to help them return to the negotiating table," Ayrault said after meeting Netanyahu, as quoted by The Times of Israel newspaper, reiterating that the conference would take place despite the Israeli leader’s objections.

    According to the top French diplomat, another conference on the issue will take place in the autumn.

    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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