PARIS – Senior French officials met a few weeks ago in New York with President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers and presented the program for the international peace conference to be held Sunday in Paris, Haaretz has learned. Trump’s team was said to have objected strenuously to the very holding of the conference, especially at this time, five days before Trump’s inauguration.
The Paris conference is not expected to produce practical decisions, but rather to serve as declarative event of the international community’s intentions toward the Middle East peace process. According to French diplomats, the conference is being held at this time, a few days before the inauguration, to convey a message to the president-elect about the importance the international community ascribes to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the extent of international consensus.
Representatives from some 70 countries and organizations are to attend the conference, including 40 foreign ministers from several Arab and Western countries. For outgoing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, this is expected to be the last international event he will be attending before his term ends on January 20. The conference, which will be attended by neither Israeli nor Palestinian representatives, is to focus on a call by the international community to preserve the two-state solution and renewal of direct negotiations between the parties.
The conference will open at at 10:30 A.M. Israel time with a speech by French President Francois Hollande. Recommendations will then be presented that were formulated over the past few months by three working groups as part of the French initiative. The groups worked on economic incentives for the Israelis and the Palestinians, building the institutions of the future Palestinian state and strengthening groups in civil society working for peace.
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