Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at this week’s cabinet meeting that he told French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in their meeting Sunday morning that his country’s support of a UNESCO resolution on Jerusalem cast doubt on the impartiality of France in its upcoming “peace initiative.”
More than 20 foreign ministers are invited to a meeting on May 30 to set the agenda for the “initiative” to be held later this year. Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not invited to the May gathering.
“I told him that the scandalous resolution accepted at UNESCO with France’s support, that does not recognize the bond of thousands of years between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount, casts a shadow over the impartiality of the entire forum France is trying to convene,” Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting after holding talks with Ayrault in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu had already sent a strongly-worded letter to French President Francois Hollande over his country’s vote supporting the UNESCO resolution to erase historic Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, Channel 2 news reported. The Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the resolution in mid-April on “Occupied Palestine” presented by several Arab countries. It refers several times to Israel as the “occupying power.”
The prime minister wrote that he was “astounded” by the support of France for such an “offensive and historic distortion of truth” and “an extremely biased and offensive” resolution.
“While we have no illusions as to the the UN’s commitment to truth or decency, we were honestly astounded to see our French friends raise their hands in favor of this shameful resolution,” Netanyahu wrote.
Hollande attempted to excuse his nation’s support for the resolution in a letter to the French Jewish community, calling the vote a “misunderstanding” and pledging not to support such measures in the future. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the wording of the resolution “clumsy” and “unfortunate.” He added that his country’s vote “changed nothing” in its approach to the Israel-PA issue.
The French foreign minister arrived Sunday in Jerusalem to attempt to convince Netanyahu to participate in the Paris “peace initiative.”
But Israel’s prime minister has already dismissed the so-called “initiative” – saying bluntly that any real solution will only result from direct bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“I am willing to meet President Abbas today, right now,” Netanyahu said during a live chat Q&A session on Twitter this past Thursday. “He can come to my home here in Jerusalem or I can go to his home here in Ramallah.”
There have been no talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority since April 2014.
Hana Levi Julian