France hosted the preliminary session of an international peace conference on Israel-Palestine on June 3. That marked the first serious effort to reinitiate the peace process after the failure of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s initiative in early 2014. And yet France is resisting the lesson which many hoped would be learnt following the failure of Kerry’s initiative: without significant reform, the peace process that has dominated over two decades of diplomacy on Israel-Palestine is set to fail.
In preparation for the Paris conference, the French fielded a delegation to Israel and Palestine. They were focused primarily on meeting with Israeli members of the negotiating team, and addressing their concerns about the conference - even though Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had clearly expressed hisdisinterest in the French initiative. Rather than support French efforts, Netanyahu reiterated his supposed commitment to bilateral negotiations between the parties. He also showed a favorable stance to Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s unexpected and somewhat bewildering revival of the Arab Peace Initiative.