Israel studying Paris peace meet offer

AFP , Sunday 5 Jun 2011

Israel is studying a French proposal to hold a peace conference in Paris by the end of July

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, visiting Israel and the West Bank this week, officially announced France was willing to expand a scheduled meeting of international donors into a broader peace conference.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday his government had not yet decided whether they would be willing to attend any such meeting, which Paris hopes could kickstart stalled talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

"I heard the proposal brought by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe," Netanyahu told media at the beginning of a weekly meeting of his cabinet.

"We very much appreciate our French friends and I will respond to them after we have considered matters. We will study the proposal and discuss it with our American friends as well."

Netanyahu also added he would not consider resuming negotiations with any Palestinians government that includes the Islamist movement Hamas, which last month signed a unity deal with the Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

"We would also like to emphasise and reiterate: Negotiations will not be conducted with a Palestinian government, half of which is Hamas, a terrorist organisation that seeks to destroy Israel," Netanyahu said.

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