World Bulletin / News Desk
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected the possibility of a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas at a France-led peace conference later this month, his office said.
Israeli officials have long opposed the initiative, which would involve an international summit in Paris at the end of December aimed at restarting long-stalled peace efforts with the Palestinians.
Netanyahu told French President Francois Hollande in a Wednesday phone call however that he was willing to meet Abbas "directly, without preconditions," his office said in a statement.
"Israel will not participate in an international conference that will not contribute to peace," it added.
The Palestinians strongly support France's international approach, saying years of negotiations with the Israelis have not ended the occupation.
Netanyahu has spoken out against "international diktats" and repeatedly called for direct negotiations.
Peace efforts have been at a complete standstill since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.
A spokesman for Netanyahu repeated Israel's rejection of the French initiative on Wednesday.
"Peace will be achieved through direct negotiations with our Palestinian neighbours, not through international conferences," David Keyes said before Netanyahu's call with Hollande.
"Our position has not changed. Israel will not attend the French conference because it will push peace further away."
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