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Israel Opposes French-Sponsored Peace Conference With Palestinians

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Nov. 6, 2016.

Israel has reiterated its firm opposition to a French-sponsored international conference before the end of the year to revive long-stalled peace efforts with the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken out against "international diktats" and repeatedly called for direct negotiations with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu’s emissaries made clear to French Envoy Pierre Vimont, who is in the region for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials, that Israel will not participate in any international conference convened contrary to that position.

According to a statement from Netanyahu's office, the Israeli officials called for "direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority" and said "any other initiative only pushes the region further away from this process."

The statement added that "promoting such a conference will make the possibility of advancing the peace process much less likely” since it will allow Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority “to continue avoiding the decision to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions."

Netanyahu has repeatedly called on Abbas to meet for talks, but Abbas has refused unless Israel ends settlement construction and conducts a prisoner release that Netanyahu canceled.

The Palestinians strongly support France's international approach, saying years of negotiations with the Israelis have not ended the occupation.

The United States mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014.