Israeli-Palestinian Peace Conference Commences in Paris
France joined a long list of countries actively seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict by hosting the first Paris Peace Conference on January 15. The one-day event, attended by delegates from over 70 countries, was organized by French President Francois Hollande in order to promote a peaceful compromise to the ever-worsening conflict.
Representatives from both Israel and Palestine were absent, thereby setting low expectations for meaningful dialogue. The conference emphasized the massive divide between the two groups: Israel and Palestine have not met in a diplomatic setting since Secretary of State Kerry’s attempt at negotiations in 2014.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was quick to criticize the conference and deemed it “useless,” while Israeli UN Ambassador Danon mocked the event as “detached from reality.” However, the Palestinians, led by Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed the conference and called for the international community to continue to hold Israel accountable for its blatant human right violations. President Abbas was unable to attend the conference, as he was opening the Palestinian Embassy in Vatican City, but considered it a step in the right direction.
Nevertheless, the conference has been dismissed as ineffective and pointless by several Arab and Israeli media outlets. No official resolution was drafted; rather, a general consensus for the necessity of reconciliation was emphasized. The conference closed with a declaration that both sides "officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution" but offered little advice on how to do so.
The conference comes in the wake of a changing political climate that threatens to reignite the conflict. First, the United States has recently abstained to vote against a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The move caused an uproar from Israeli leadership, which called the move “shameful” and a threat to peaceful negotiations. Second, the start of a new U.S. administration under Trump will shift
American policy favorably towards Israel. Chief among this policy would be Trump’s proposal to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a highly controversial move because of Jerusalem’s contested status as belonging to both sides.