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Netanyahu reiterates rejection of French peace initiative

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday reiterated his rejection of a French initiative to hold an international peace conference on the Middle East, proposing instead to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

"Peace just does not get achieved through international conferences, UN-style. It doesn't get to fruition through international diktats or committees from countries around the world who are sitting and seeking to decide our fate and our security when they have no direct stake in it," Netanyahu said during a joint press conference with visiting French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

"The French initiative will not encourage peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he added.

"You said that direct talks are very difficult right now," Netanyahu added, speaking to Valls. "And you're right. They are, but they're the only way to proceed towards peace."

In its first reaction to Netanyahu's remarks, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, Ahmed Majdalani, said: "Netanyahu has nothing to offer President Abbas." He added that his offer to meet Abbas in front of the media is a last ditch attempt to prevent the ministerial meeting scheduled for 3 June.

"I do not think the president will respond to Netanyahu's offer," Majdalani said.

Sources in the Palestinian presidency said Abbas did not receive any formal invitation from Netanyahu regarding his desire to meet.

Valls is due to visit Ramallah today where he will meet his Palestinian counterpart Rami Hamdallah to discuss the French proposal.

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