French Peace Plan to Require Recognition of Jewish State

PNN – Palestine News Network 03.06.11 – 15:07

Jerusalem – PNN – The peace proposal offered Thursday by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will require, in a first for the wider international community, that the endgame of negotiations be “two states for two peoples” and not just “a two-state solution.”

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The plan aims to break the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock before the expected showdown at the UN General Assembly in September when the Palestinians intend to bring forward the recognition of a Palestinian state before the international body.

Juppe said “if nothing happens between now and September, the situation will be difficult for everyone,” and added that the plan already has EU and US backing.

Since the French document states explicitly that the goal of negotiations is “two states for two peoples,” the proposal adheres much more closely to Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people.”

The proposal, in contrast to the international community’s former position, does not stipulate that Jerusalem would be the capital of both states, but says only that the Jerusalem issue must be solved by negotiations.

The French proposal would revive talks with a peace proposal based on the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps, security arrangements for both sides, and it would put off for a later date issues such as refugees and Jerusalem.

Juppe first gave the document to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday while the two were in Rome, and he has explicitly asked both Netanyahu and Abbas for their responses within the next several days.

The Foreign Minister has said that should both leaders respond approvingly, then France would like to convene a peace conference in Paris come July for the resumption of talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Both Netanyahu and Abbas have said that their replies would come shortly.

A senior Israeli official speaking on behalf of Netanyahu told Juppe that Israel demands, as a part of negotiations, an Israeli military presence on the Jordan River, the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and the acknowledgment that Palestinian refugees would not return to Israel.

The official also said should a unity Fatah-Hamas government remain in power, wherein Hamas does not recognize Israel and renounce terror, then talks with the Palestinian Authority could not resume.

The French have initiated this move a week and a half following Netanyahu’s speech before the U.S. Congress. Netanyahu’s address, which took a hardline on issues such as refugees, Jerusalem, and a return to the 1967 borders, disappointed France, as well as the American administration and other key EU members such as Germany, Britain, Italy, and Spain.

French officials have noted that should no progress occur in the peace process by September, then France would consider recognizing a Palestinian state. The French proposal hopes to stall the Palestinians from asking the United Nations to recognize the Palestinian state and instead return to negotiations.

Meanwhile, the Israeli daily Haaretz has reported that both the White House and the State Department are also thinking of ideas to stop the Palestinians come September, even if both sides do not resume negotiations.

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