France reportedly backing out of Mideast peace summit following Trump's election
Western officials say French President Hollande believes Paris would have a hard time convening an international conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in light of the administration change in the US; officials also cite Israel's intransigence, lack of interest by outgoing US administration as reasons behind decision.
A western official told Ynet that French President Francois Hollande has said in different forums last week that Paris would have a hard time convening the summit in light of the administration change in the US.
However, the official could not confirm whether the summit, planned to be held by the end of 2016 in the French capital, has indeed been canceled.
The reports of the summit's cancelation come amid other reports over the weekend that France has decided to freeze its peace initiative due to heavy pressure from the international community at large and from Israel in particular.
Western diplomats were quoted as saying that the lack of interest from the outgoing American administration and Israel's decision not to participate in the summit have also contributed to the decision to put a pin in Paris's plans.
One of the diplomats was quoted as saying that "officials in the US State Department told the special French envoy Pierre Vimont in a meeting in Washington last week that they were not enthusiastic about the idea of the summit and that they believed nothing would come out of it due to its nature and Israel's refusal to attend it."
The diplomats added that it is possible France prefers to clear the way for other initiatives—from Egypt and Russia—that would likely have better chances of success due to the close ties between Israel and Egyptian President Abed Fatah al-Sisi as well as Jerusalem's strong ties with Moscow.
The Palestinians, however, denied the reports that France had decided to cancel the summit. Dr. Husam Zomlot, an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the expected next Palestinian ambassador to Washington, insisted that the Élysée Palace had confirmed the date for the conference and that Paris was busy preparing for it.
The Palestinian Authority prefers the French initiative to those of Egypt or Russia as it supports Abbas's strategy to bring the conflict to the international level on the assertion that only international pressure could cause Israel to change its policies.
In early June, the French held an initial conference in Paris without the presence of the two warring sides in an effort to prepare the ground for the planned summit. The conference was attended by foreign ministers from the European Union, along with officials from the UN and from Arab States.
During that conference, Saudi Arabia called for the adoption of the Arab peace initiative from 2002, which would lead to the normalization of ties between Israel and Arab nations.