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France retreats from draft UN resolution: Palestinian FM

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The Palestinian Authority foreign minister said Tuesday that France was retreating from submitting a draft resolution on renewing Palestinian-Israeli peace efforts to the UN Security Council.

Riyad al-Maliki said that France was backing away from the move following pressure from Israel and the United States, who are both currently busy with talks on Iran’s nuclear program.

“I can say that the idea of the French draft resolution in Security Council is not a main topic for decision makers in France anymore,” he told Palestinian state radio Voice of Palestine after meeting with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius in Cairo.

He said that to avoid “embarrassment,” France had suggested forming a negotiations “support committee” as an alternative, although al-Maliki said that the role such a committee would play was not clear.

He said that a “support committee” would only be active if talks began, adding that it would be formed of the major member states in the UN Security Council, in addition to Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Al-Maliki added that he would speak with New Zealand’s foreign minister to check whether his country, which is currently chairing the UN Security Council, would be taking any steps related to peace talks.

New Zealand said last month that it was hoping to revive talks during its month-long presidency of the Security Council.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully said: “I think that the two parties could make surprising progress, but you’ve got to get them in a room.”

However, he added that he did not believe there should be conditions to the talks, saying that Israel was “allergic to the idea that the Security Council might start the process by imposing a whole lot of conditions — conditions in their view that would favor the other side.”

In the past, Palestinians have given conditions for peace talks which include a freeze in settlement construction and the release of Palestinian prisoners in accordance with earlier agreements.

McCully made no mention of either settlements or Palestinian refugees’ right of return.

France has been discussing a draft resolution at the UN Security Council for several months, with hopes of making headway following Israeli elections in March.

During a visit to the region in early June, the French foreign minister urged the resumption of peace talks and spoke out against Israeli settlement construction, saying: “When settlement building continues, (the prospect of) a two-state solution recedes.”

There have been no peace talks between Israel and Palestine since US-led negotiations collapsed in April 2014. MAANNEWS


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