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Israelis, Palestinians secretly discuss French initiative

Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seem to discuss the French initiative for an international conference, though Netanyahu, unchanged, is not really interested in advancing negotiations with the Palestinians.
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When outgoing French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced the French initiative to convene an international peace conference on a two-state solution on Jan. 29, it was perceived both in Jerusalem and Ramallah merely as a declarative gesture in order to bolster the position of embattled Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

But the French take their initiative more seriously. A French Foreign Ministry official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that Paris is holding discreet talks with officials on the Israeli and Palestinian sides to explore whether a common basis for such an international conference could be established. According to the official, who is himself involved in those secret talks, there was no flat rejection by either of the parties on the principle of an international conference. Yet, the initial gap between the parties on the necessary foundations and terms of reference for such a conference is very significant — possibly insurmountable.

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