France has offered to hold a conference in July to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Thursday.
Juppe, who is on a visit to Ramallah, met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and told him he had spoken of the conference with President Mahmoud Abbas, with whom he met Wednesday.
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"The situation here cannot continue," he said. "We are convinced that if no progress is made by September it will be very difficult for everyone."
Juppe said the French initiative is based on a recent speech made by US President Barack Obama, in which he urged Israel to return to the 1967 borders.
But the main difference, he added, is that Obama stressed Israel's security while France is interested in "security for both states". The initiative requires both sides to resolve the issues of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees within a year.
On Wednesday Juppe urged Israel and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table, saying that there will be "consequences" if nothing is resolved by the Palestinians' September UN date, during which they plan to declare statehood.
"The French – and with us all of Europe – are convinced that retaining the status quo in the Middle East is a mistake," he said, citing regional changes in Arab states such as Egypt and Tunisia.
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