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Israel-Palestinian conflict: Summit warns against unilateral actions – [Images]

(UDHAYAM, PARIS) – Representatives of nations at a conference aimed at kick-starting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have warned that neither side should take unilateral actions.

In a statement, delegates at the summit in Paris also restated their commitment to the two-state solution.

But they shied away from criticizing President-elect Donald Trump’s suggested US embassy move to Jerusalem.

Palestinians welcomed the conference, but Israel called it “rigged”.

Neither side was invited to participate in the day-long summit, which was attended by 70 nations, but they were invited to hear the conclusions.

This led the UK government to question how effective the conference, which it decided to attend in “an observer status”, could be in solving the conflict.

A Foreign Office statement said it had “particular reservations” about a conference “intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them”, adding that it had not signed up to the joint communique.

It also expressed concern about the timing of the event – just days before Mr Trump takes over as US president – and the opposition of Israel.

The summit ended with delegates warning that neither side should take unilateral steps that could jeopardise future negotiations.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said his team insisted on language in the communique which condemned Palestinian attacks on Israel, making it more “balanced”.

He had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reassure him that any proposal following on from the conference at the UN Security Council would be opposed by the US, Mr Kerry added.

Left to right, front: Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov, US Secretary of State John Kerry, French President Francois Hollande, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, French State Secretary for European Affairs Harlem Desir and other foreign ministers and representatives gather for a group photo at the Middle East Peace Conference in Paris, France,

Israel had been concerned that the conference might set the terms for a final agreement and seek to get it adopted at the UN, a move it feels would undermine future negotiations.

The conference comes at a time of rising tension in the region, and there are fears President-elect Trump’s plans to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could stoke it further.

There was deep alarm among participants at the conference that if President Trump does break with decades of US policy and move the embassy to Jerusalem, then conditions will be set for another upsurge in violence in the region.

Despite years of on-off peace talks, major differences still separate the two sides.

Construction work at Maale Adumim settlement (file photo)

Palestinians fiercely object to Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, territory it wants for a future state.

The settlements, home to about 600,000 Israelis, are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Israel says Palestinian incitement and violence, and a refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state, are key obstacles to peace.


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