JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has doubts about U.S. Middle East peace efforts, according to a transcript of a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz obtained a transcript of part of the talks Netanyahu held with Macron in Paris on Sunday.
Told by Macron that France supports U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to bring the Israelis and Palestinians back to negotiations, Netanyahu replied, “It will be difficult to push forward quickly with the American initiative. I’m not sure that [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] can deliver on his commitments, for internal political reasons.”
Israeli officials confirmed the gist of the transcript, which was in French.
Netanyahu said Israel had every intention of working with the Americans but would prefer a different approach.
“I’d like a parallel process with the Arab countries, at the same time as the process with the Palestinians,” he said, referring to the idea of forging a deal with Arab states along the lines of the Saudi peace initiative, which offers Israel “normalization” with the Arab world in exchange for a full withdrawal from the territory it has occupied since the 1967 Six Day War.
Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdainah, said the Palestinians support Trump’s peace efforts, adding: “What is needed is not to waste time.”
Trump has pledged to try to revive negotiations, calling Middle East peace the “ultimate deal.” He has received both Netanyahu and Abbas in the White House and visited the region in May. He appointed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as his chief negotiator, and a company lawyer, Jason Greenblatt, as the main go-between.