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Israel says no to French-brokered peace talks
Israel has refused to take part in French-brokered talks to restart the Israeli-palestinian peace process. France had hoped the peace conference it is organising later this year might put some life back into talks on a two-state solution in the Middle East.
At a preliminary conference in June the UN, EU, US and several Arab countries discussed proposals but without the Israelis or Palestinians present.
Israel had already indicated it had no intention of taking part in the conference but delivered a formal rejection on Monday at a meeting in Jerusalem with the French special envoy Pierre Vimont.
In a statement from the office of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu it said the talks were a distraction from the goal of negotiating directly with the Palestinians.
There have been no such negotiations since the US-mediated peace process collapsed in 2014.
Calls on France to drop conference plans
The statement added that Israel expected that France would not continue organising a conference or process that contradicted Israel's position.
The rejection comes alongside growing fears in Israel that US President Barack Obama, who has made no secret of his frustration over the deadlock, may use his last months in office to support a UN Security Council resolution on the Middle East peace process.
The French foreign ministry said it still planned to hold the conference before the end of the year.
If it does, the Palestinians say they will attend.