The diplomats from an 72 nations who are at this moment participating in the Paris Middle East Peace Conference on Sunday are expected to call for a two-state solution, according to a draft declaration seen by the DPA news agency, but they will not proceed to recognize unilaterally a new, independent Palestinian state. The draft calls for “two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, who recently blamed mostly Israel for there not yet being a Palestinian state, also stopped short of recognizing such a state unilaterally. It is expected, then, that at least the European diplomats, including Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier, would resist the temptation to both punish pesky Israel and to let incoming President Donald Trump have a piece of their mind.
According to Ha’aretz, when senior French officials met in New York with Trump’s advisers, the latter “objected strenuously” to the very idea of the conference, five days before Trump’s inauguration.
Last week, Deputy State Dept. Spokesperson Mark C. Toner, said as much at his daily press conference, telling reporters: “We’re not expecting any major new announcements to necessarily come out of this meeting. I mean, you’d have to, obviously, talk to the French about their intentions, but our understanding is that this is an opportunity for various governments and foreign ministers to get around the table and to talk about the way forward. But I wouldn’t expect any specific initiatives to come out of it.”
As to the possibility that the Obama Administration would support a new UN Security Council condemnation of Israeli settlements, this time, possibly, with a toothier resolution, Toner said: “Well, our understanding is that the French don’t have any plans to follow-up their conference at the Security Council. Obviously, I’d refer you to them to more definitively address that question. But the President said about pursuing that goal through the Security Council that a resolution that outlines final status issues is not appropriate, and we would continue to reject any UN Security Council product that is biased or seeks to impose a solution.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault published an article in “Le Monde” Thursday, also saying France is not trying to impose a solution, only to stop an “infernal cycle of radicalization and violence” between Arabs and Jews.
Of course, as infernal cycles of radicalization and violence go, Ayrault would have found much more to contemplate in other sections of the Sykes-Picot Middle East map that was drawn between the Brits and the French and are yet to result in a single year without violent bloodshed.
Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority is attending the Paris summit. In the tradition of the 1938 Munich agreement between the Germans and the British, the envisioned solution is being put together by anyone but those directly affected by it. Or, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the conference last week, “This pushes peace backwards.” All the way to the Sudeten…
Spokesperson Toner was actually playing fair last Thursday, when he reiterated that “it still remains for the two parties involved – the Palestinians and the Israeli Government – to sit around a table and to talk through what a negotiated settlement looks like,” adding, “I think what our preference is that both sides create the kind of environment where they can go back to the negotiating table.”