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Israel foreign ministry says French Mideast drive 'will fail'

AFP , Thursday 2 Jun 2016
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The head of Israel's foreign ministry said Thursday that France's bid to revive Israel-Palestinian peace talks was doomed to failure, like a 1916 colonial effort to carve up the Middle East.

"This effort utterly failed then and will completely fail today," Dore Gold told journalists on the eve of an international meeting in Paris, referring to the Sykes-Picot agreement to draw up the region's borders.

"The only way to get a stable regional arrangement that will allow us to create real peace in the Middle East is if the parties of the region come to understandings between them," Gold said.

"We believe the Arab states would give backing to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," the foreign ministry's director general added.

"Therefore we prefer a Middle Eastern process and not a process that somebody is trying to create in Paris."

British diplomat Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot of France drew the borders of a new Middle East in May 1916 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

"It was at the apex of the era of colonialism in our area," Gold said. "Their effort failed as we see today in the deserts of Iraq and Syria."

Israel has rejected any French-led multilateral effort and insists instead on direct talks with the Palestinians.

Neither Israel nor the Palestinians will be represented in Paris at Friday's talks, which aim to lay the ground for a fully-fledged peace conference to be held by the end of the year.

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