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French premier pushes Mideast initiative with Palestinians

May 24, 2016 - 7:56 AM

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territory - France's prime minister said Tuesday that peace between Israelis and the Palestinians is also important for security in Europe.

Manuel Valls made the comments following a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart in Ramallah.

"We know we, as French and Europeans, we know that our own security, our own stability depends on peace, the region's peace, peace between Israelis and Palestinians," he said.

France is hosting a peace conference in Paris in June in hopes of reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The country has suffered from a series of attacks by Islamist radicals.

Valls has been visiting the region in a bid to raise support for the initiative. Both Israel and the Palestinians have not been invited to the upcoming conference.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the idea of an international conference, saying the longstanding conflict can be resolved only through direct negotiations.

But Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah welcomed the French initiative and dismissed Netanyahu's position as an attempt to buy time.

"We have to hurry. Time is passing quickly. The two-state solution is disappearing," he said.

The most recent round of talks broke down two years ago. The Palestinians, along with much of the international community, have accused Netanyahu of undermining peace talks by continued settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem — captured territories where they hope to establish an independent state.

Valls wrapped up a three-day tour of Israel and the West Bank on Tuesday.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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