Sarkozy. Wants international initiative
Obama and Mubarak. Step in the right direction
The French Foreign Ministry on Wednesday afternoon welcomed the quiet Israeli agreement to freeze construction bids in settlements, which was first reported by Ynet, a day after US President Barack Obama expressed his satisfaction with the move.
"If the decision is officially approved and implemented on the ground, it would be a positive step and hopefully a first step ahead of a complete stop to settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem," said French Foreign Ministry Spokesman Romain Nadal, saying this was in accordance with France and the European Union's demands as part of the Road Map for Peace.
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On Tuesday, following his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Obama referred to the decision to freeze construction bids as "a step in the right direction," praised Israel for its positive activities towards the Palestinians, and expressed his hope that the Palestinians and Arab states will take their own steps to advance the peace process.
The French Foreign Ministry spokesman noted that Paris was seeking "an immediate revival of the peace process, with the expectation of establishing an independent and durable Palestinian state, which will live in peace and security alongside Israel."
He also noted that France – as mentioned by President Nicolas Sarkozy in his meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah on Tuesday – was convinced that "an international initiative to bring together the interested parties on the highest levels will be able to instigate a real chance for peace."
For this purpose, the spokesman said, France is holding "consultations with key countries in the region, including Egypt, as well as with the United States."
According to the quiet agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Housing Minister Ariel Atias, no new bids for construction in the territories – both in east Jerusalem and in the settlement blocs – have been issued since the government's establishment.