Paris conference on Israel, Palestine calls for two-state solution

Paris, Jan 16 (IANS) An international peace conference held in Paris to kick-start the stalled peace talks between Israel and Palestine, concluded with a declaration that a two-state solution was the only path to peace for the two nations.

The final declaration of the conference, attended by representatives of some 70 countries on Sunday, called for the two states to live side by side, with Israel adhering to its 1967 borders – ceding back the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which it captured in the Six Day War, Sputnik reported on Monday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the peace meeting and said that “the Paris conference has reaffirmed and reiterated all international legitimacy resolutions, including pillars of international law, rejecting any dictations, settlements and imposing realities on the ground, including Jerusalem.”

Abbas expressed thanks to the French President and government for hosting this conference and exerting all necessary efforts for its success, said a report by Xinhua news agency.

However, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the peace meeting as “useless” and said that “the conference was being coordinated between the French and the Palestinians. Its goal was to try and force terms on Israel that conflict with our national needs,” the Jewish leader said during his weekly cabinet meeting.

Both Israel and Palestine did not participate in the conference.

French President François Hollande told the gathering the conference was urgently needed, despite criticism.

“The two-state solution is threatened and there is a need to preserve it. Now is not the moment to stop. The solution of two states is the only way forward and the only solution that will answer both sides’ aspirations and legitimate rights,” he said, according to reports.

Speaking at a press conference after the event, Foreign Minister of France Jean-Marc Ayrault said the meeting was meant as a hand reaching out to both parties. (Israeli officials had condemned the event as a way of “putting all of Israel on trial.”)

“What we are working on and what we want to contribute to is that the parties take the path of dialogue and negotiation that no longer exists today. This is a dangerous and disturbing situation,” Sputnik quoted Ayrault as saying.

“There is no future of peace in this region of the world, if we do not reaffirm the necessity of two states, that is to say that besides the State of Israel, the State of Palestine exists. There is no other way. This is the position of France,” he stated.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the Paris peace conference statement came complementary to the latest UN resolution against settlements and constitutes another diplomatic achievement for Palestinians.

Malki said the adopted statement reflects the international consensus rejecting the occupation.

–IANS

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