Netanyahu Derides Paris Peace Talks as 'Yesterday's World'

A demonstrator holds a sign reading

A demonstrator holds a sign reading"Conference of shame during a rally in Paris

Neither Israel nor the Palestinians attended the conference, which the Palestinians supported but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed as "futile".

Netanyahu has previously claimed the talks were "rigged" against the Jewish state, insisting that direct bilateral talks between Jerusalem and Ramallah was the only way to negotiate a peace agreement.

Trump's choice for secretary of defense said at confirmation hearings before the U.S. Senate on Thursday that Tel Aviv is Israel's capital, although Trump has said he intends to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

The prime minister's remarks come days ahead of the inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump, who has signaled that his administration will take a more friendly approach to the Netanyahu government's policies.

The Palestinians, who in recent years have campaigned for the worldwide community to assume a greater role in resolving the conflict, have welcomed the French initiative, particularly in light of a new US administration widely expected to side with Israel on many issues central to the conflict.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has warned against such a move, saying Saturday that relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would cause peace prospects to suffer.

A Palestinian diplomat told Ahram Online that if the Paris conference is not able to produce anything but a clear position against the recognition of de facto changes introduced by Israel to the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem as the capital of the aspired Palestinian state, it would be a flop. "The objective is to reaffirm the support of the worldwide community to the two-state solution and ensure that this solution remains the reference".

While the Paris meeting was praised by participants, Gresh said he believes even French officials are sceptical it will help revive peace talks as Trump prepares to assume the United States presidency on January 20. Ayrault said that he and other senior French officials met with both sides in recent months, and said he is willing to travel to the region to present the conference's conclusions.

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Despite years of on-off peace talks, major differences still separate Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel, which is still seething over a critical United Nations resolution last month, had voiced fears the Paris meeting could produce anti-Israel measures at the Security Council - before Trump takes over.

"I am aware of the reservations around this conference and the doubt about if it should be held at this time", Ayrault said, but, he added, "France thinks it is important to renew the push for peace".

Francois Burgat, a political scientist and author, said if the French government wanted to meaningfully bring about peace, it could have taken a harder line with Israel as the occupying power.

Hollande said ultimately it is up the leaders of Israel and Palestine to secure a lasting peace.

"May Israelis and Palestinians have the courage and the determination to write a new page of history, where hate and revenge give way to the will to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony", Francis said in his Christmas address. "I hope it will not happen", said Abbas, speaking in Arabic.

Israel is blamed by the global community for the deadlock of the Middle East peace process due to its settlement expansion policy that is rejected even by its strongest ally the United States.