Israel has rejected an ultimatum set by France over the weekend to recognize a Palestinian state if Paris' efforts to break the deadlock between the warring sides fail.
France announced on Friday its intentions to organize an international peace conference to bring together Israel, the Palestinians, and their main partners - the US, EU and Arab states.
A diplomatic official wondered on Saturday night whether France was also planning on "calling for an international conference with ISIS, which commits terror attacks in Paris."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the French initiative, saying it is "an incentive for the Palestinians to come (to the international conference) and not make any compromises."
He said he believed the French will "sober up" about this initiative, and stressed Israel was willing to enter direct negotiations without preconditions.
Hamas also rejected the French initiative, with senior official Ismail Radwan saying international calls to renewed Israeli-Palestinian talks were useless and unacceptable. Radwan said world powers were simply trying to bring back solutions that have already failed, and warned the PA not to accept agreements that would detract from the Palestinians' rights.
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, welcomed the French initiative, saying at a speech in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa that the current situation could not continue, and reiterated his position that the Palestinians were not willing to negotiate just for the sake of negotiations. He also noted the Palestinians would not accept any interim agreements either.
On the other hand, Israeli officials said that if France does organize an international conference, Israel will consider attending despite the "twisted" French logic, which they said was a desperate attempt by the French foreign minister to leave his mark before he steps down.
"The French know their initiative is hopeless, but they're doing anything to leave their marks and show they're a relevant player in the international arena," an Israeli source concluded.
The French claimed the idea for an international conference attended by Netanyahu and Abbas was the Palestinian president's idea.
"Unfortunately, (Israeli) settlement construction continues. We must not let the two-state solution unravel. It is our responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council," Fabius told French ambassadors on Friday.
A US official commenting on the French initiative said that "The US position on this issue has been clear. We continue to believe that the preferred path to resolve this conflict is for the parties to reach an agreement on final status issues directly."
Fabius, who will finish his tenure as foreign minister soon, has repeatedly raised over the past few years diplomatic initiatives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, all of which have been rejected by Israel.
Recently, Fabius raised a draft resolution at the UN Security Council to place international observers on the Temple Mount due to the high tensions in the complex, but both sides rejected the proposal.
In April 2014, Fabius raised a draft resolution at the Security Council calling to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and limit the talks in 18 months. If no solution can be reached within that period - the Security Council would recognize Palestine as a member state. Even though the proposal failed, the French continued submitting different versions of it. The proposal was finally shelved over objection from the Obama administration, that did not want the proposal to hurt chances of reaching a nuclear deal with Iran.
However, this did not dissuade the French, who submitted several other proposals on the issue, including ones to condemn settlement construction.
'French coordinated initiative with Herzog'Sources in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's close circle claimed that the French coordinated their initiative with Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union), who visited Paris last week and met with French President Francois Hollande and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.
But Herzog rejected the allegations. "I completely deny it and in any case, nothing will come out of it because both Netanyahu and (Palestinian president) Abbas are cowards and don't want to move forward. An international conference to restart diplomatic moves is not necessarily a negative thing, but it's clear to me they're both cowards who don't want, nor are they capable, to move forward."
MK Tzipi Livni added: "Only an Israeli diplomatic initiative will ensure Israel has control of its future, and get us out of the grip of international pressure, which is becoming tighter and tighter still around our necks. As long as there's no initiative from us, the Palestinians will continue noting achievements in the world."
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid slammed the initative, saying “Israel will not be coerced into negotiations. We won’t be dragged with threats to the negotiating table. No sovereign nation would accept that. We need to enter negotiations on our terms and according to our timetable with an understanding that we do not want, and must not try, to absorb 3.5 million Palestinians. But it won’t be like this.
“This points to a serious deterioration in our international standing. It wouldn’t have happened in the past. A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council would not have announced unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state without discussing it with us first. In the past the United States Customs would not have joined the campaign to label products. In the past the European Union would not have labelled Israeli goods including from the Golan Heights.”