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Israel applied pressure to influence Paris Conference statement

January 16, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Delegates pose for a photo before the 2nd session of Middle East peace talks about Israel-Palestinian territories’ in Paris, France on January 15, 2017 [Cem Özdel / Anadolu Agency]

Although the Israeli government denounced this weekend’s Paris Conference, and did not participate — even announcing that it would not be bound by the outcomes — it is clear that it applied diplomatic and political pressure to undermine the conference statement, or have problematic clauses removed, it has been alleged.

Palestinian analyst and monitor of the Israeli media Dr Saleh Al-Na’ami always expected that Paris would never have “hard” decisions against Israel. However, a local political source said that Israel was afraid that one of the UN Security Council member states which attended the conference would have included an article in the final statement in order to refer it to the international body.

Israeli website Ynet News acknowledged that Israel could make a difference to the conference communique. “Further, problematic sections from the draft summary were removed,” it claimed, “including comparisons of violence to [Israel’s illegal] settlements.”

According to Al-Na’ami, Israel contacted President-elect Donald Trump’s team in the US to put pressure on the conference participants in Paris to ensure that there would be no difficult clause contained in the final conference statement. Right-wing Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon, said Al-Na’ami, reported that Trump’s team accepted the Israeli request, contacted the French government and demanded that it would not take any measure imposing any solution on Israel.

Furthermore, Israeli diplomats around the world were ordered into action by the foreign ministry in Tel Aviv to persuade the participants to put pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to accept direct talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The basis of such talks would be “recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, halting terror [sic] and stopping incitement against Israel.”

Netanyahu’s office confirmed that US Secretary of State John Kerry was sounded out to make sure that nothing against Israel would be decided by the conference participants. It said that Kerry made a commitment to Netanyahu that there would be no resulting consequences to the conference, neither at the UN Security Council nor in Paris. “The US will oppose any proposal that may be put forward to the Security Council,” he is said to have told the Israeli prime minister.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shakid, meanwhile, played down the importance of the conference. “If the Palestinians do not recognise our right to settle in the land of Israel, thousands of such conferences would have been held like this one and would never succeed bringing us onto our knees,” she wrote on Facebook.