Paris Middle East Peace Conference Delayed to January

Will Paris host a Middle East peace conference? Eiffel Tower in Paris. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Will Paris host a Middle East peace conference? Eiffel Tower in Paris. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

France still apparently intends to hold an international conference on the Israel-Palestinian peace process, it’s just going to be a month later. And possibly without either the Israelis or the Palestinians. French Ambassador to the United Nations François Delattre confirmed late last week what the Palestinians had earlier already leaked—the conference is now set for January, following a report in Le Figaro that the French were previously looking at the week of Christmas for the conference they had been insisting would take place in 2016. Delattre said last Friday in comments posted to the French mission to the U.N. website, that “France will hold an international conference in January, bringing together all the partner states that are committed to peace.”

The Ma’an News Agency reported earlier that week that Palestinian Ambassador to France Salman al-Herfi had already said he’d been told by the French the conference had been postponed to the first month of next year. Furthermore, he said if the Israelis elect not to attend the event—which Israel has long said is an inappropriate international intrusion into issues that should be settled by the two sides—then neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will be invited.

That would actually be the second time France has scheduled a dramatic peace event without the two parties to the conflict. A kick-off event to their latest process held in June did not invite them either.

Instead of a global process, Israel has proposed a one-on-one with the Palestinians, an invitation which the Palestinians have not openly accepted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with French President Francois Hollande earlier in December to tell him “that if there is no international conference in Paris, he would come to meet with [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] for direct talks without preconditions,” according to a statement from Netanyahu’s office at the time.

The statement reiterated that Israel will not attend an international conference, “which will not contribute to achieving peace.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, December 17, 2016)

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