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French FM to Netanyahu: I Know You're Against Peace Initiative, but Train Has Left the Station

Jerusalem was surprised to discover that Germany and the Czech Republic, two of Israel's closest allies, volunteered to help set up working groups to continue the process launched at the June 3 Paris meeting.

France has said it intends to push ahead with its peace initiative despite Israel’s objections.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu 10 days ago that “I know that I haven’t persuaded you, but the train has already left the station.”
The message was relayed via diplomatic cable from the French to Israeli foreign ministries after Netanyahu and Ayrault spoke with each other following the June 3 foreign ministers’ meeting in Paris about efforts to sidestep a diplomatic freeze to resolve the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
During that conversation Netanyahu strongly criticized the French initiative and expressed strong objections to all its components.
A senior official in Jerusalem said the cable, also based on talks with senior French foreign ministry officials, showed that Ayrault was not impressed by Netanyahu’s comments, and intends to carry out further steps to advance the initiative this month.
The cable said that senior French foreign ministry officials told Israeli diplomats they view the statement issued at the end of the Paris meeting and the fact that more than 20 foreign ministers attended as a diplomatic statement that France has an international mandate to advance the peace initiative.
The senior Israeli official said members of the French Foreign Ministry told their Israeli colleagues they are interested in setting up working groups to continue the process launched at the Paris meeting, in the coming weeks.
The French want these groups to put together a package of confidence building steps for Israelis and Palestinians, a list of economic incentives the international community could offer both sides and regional security arrangements that might support an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
“The French told us they want to organize working groups by the end of the month,” the senior Israeli official said.
In his conversation with Ayrault, Netanyahu said he opposes setting up working groups especially for dealing with security issues.
Last week the Foreign Ministry received several messages from European capitals about setting up the working groups. The ministry was surprised to discover that two countries that hastened to volunteer in Paris to help organize these groups were Germany and the Czech Republic, seen as Israel’s two closest friends in Europe.
A few days ago the Foreign Ministry instructed Israeli ambassadors in Europe to inform their local foreign ministries of Israel’s objections to setting up the working groups.
The senior Israeli official said the French want to take two further steps to advance their initiative. Firstly, they want to take advantage of their status as rotating president of the UN Security Council and hold a debate about their peace initiative at a monthly session on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
The official added that the French may try during the meeting, which will apparently be held in the last week of June, to put together a presidential statement for the UNSC that would express support for their initiative.
The second step they are expected to take will be at the monthly meeting of the 28 European Union foreign ministers taking place on June 20. The French want the meeting to pass a resolution expressing support for their initiative.Schermata 2016 06 13 alle 21.34.07
In parallel, toward the end of June the Quartet’s report about the diplomatic freeze in the peace process is due for publication. The EU’s foreign minister, Federica Mogherini told the Security Council last Monday that the Quartet’s report would soon be published. She said the report would describe the immediate obstacles to renewing direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and policies both sides are taking that threaten the possibility of achieving a two-state solution.
Mogherini said the report would include clear recommendations regarding how to advance and create confidence on both sides that would permit a resumption of peace talks.

Barak Ravid
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.724640Schermata 2016 06 13 alle 21.35.31

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Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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