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Why France isn’t inviting Israel, Palestine to peace process conference

As a first step to relaunch a two-state solution process, France will convene at the end of May a conference of stakeholders, without the Israelis or the Palestinians.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) and French President Francois Hollande (R) make a joint statement after a meeting to discuss France's initiative for peace in the Middle East at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, April 15, 2016.  REUTERS/Charles Platiau - RTX2A5J6
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The Paris conference on a two-state solution process, which will be convened May 30, is the first concrete step related to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process since the shuttle diplomacy of Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013-14. The French are inviting the Middle East Quartet representatives (United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations), the Arab League and approximately 20 foreign ministers. Israel and Palestine are not invited, as the French want to prevent an Israeli no. The purpose is to convene a more operative international peace conference later in the summer in order to launch talks on a two-state solution between the parties themselves.

This is good news for Middle East peace hopefuls. A Washington conference would have been more useful, but probably out of the question in a US election year. France has decided to walk into the policy vacuum produced by US passivity and despair. This move reflects European concerns that, without a realistic prospect for a two-state solution process, the Israeli-Palestinian equation will be filled with growing violence, which compromises the position of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. All EU partners share this view — some with greater enthusiasm (such as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini), some with less (such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel).

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