(JTA) – Before leaving office on Jan. 20, Secretary of State John Kerry told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Paris peace conference will not lead to further action at the United Nations or other international bodies. Kerry spoke by phone with Netanyahu on Sunday, Jan. 15, according to reports. Kerry was one of more than 72 international leaders who attended Sunday’s peace conference in Paris. The conference closed on Sunday with a final statement that called on Israel and the Palestinians to “officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution” and to not take unilateral actions that would jeopardize future peace talks.
Earlier on Sunday, Netanyahu slammed the Paris peace conference during the weekly Cabinet meeting. “The conference convening in Paris today is a useless conference. It is being coordinated between the French and the Palestinians. Its goal is to try and force terms on Israel that conflict with our national needs,” Netanyahu said. “Of course it pushes peace further away because it hardens the Palestinian positions and it also pushes them away from direct negotiations without preconditions. I must say that this conference is among the last twitches of yesterday’s world. Tomorrow’s world will be different – and it is very near,” Netanyahu concluded, alluding to the Trump presidency.
Netanyahu reportedly told Kerry that Israel had already paid a diplomatic price for the U.S. decision not to veto last month’s U.N. Security Council resolution which slammed West Banks settlements, according to Haaretz. Netanyahu has criticized the current international peace process, saying only direct negotiations between the two parties will be effective. Neither Netanyahu nor Abbas traveled to Paris for the conference.
Over 1,000 pro-Israel supporters, most Jewish, protested against the peace meeting outside of the Israeli embassy in Paris on Sunday.
French President François Hollande said in opening the conference that: “The two-state solution is not the dream of a system of yesterday. It still remains the objective of the international community.”
He acknowledged, however: “It’s not a matter of dictating to the parties the terms of a deal… Only direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians can lead to peace; no one will do it in their place.”
In closing the conference on Sunday evening, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the recent anti-settlement resolution passed by the UN Security Council and John Kerry’s recent policy speech “represented the voice of the world.”