France warns of 'explosion' if no Mideast peace
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned Sunday of an "explosion" in the absence of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts during a visit to the region Sunday, after Paris said it would propose a U.N. Security Council resolution to set a framework for negotiations.
The Palestinians have welcomed the initiative, hoping the international community will assume a greater role in resolving the conflict after more than two decades of failed U.S.-led peace efforts.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he would "fiercely reject" any international demands on the talks.
Palestinian officials and French diplomats say the proposal would call for basing the borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state on the lines that existed before the 1967 war, in which Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It also would set a two-year deadline for an agreement.
Israel rejects a return to its pre-1967 lines, saying they are indefensible, and does not want to set a deadline for an agreement.
"The most important thing for us is again to seek peace and security and the necessity to have two states," Fabius said Sunday after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "Let's take the lessons from the past and try to move forward."
Fabius said he had spoken recently with Egypt's president and Jordan's king, and "they both told me the same thing, there is a great concern that if things continue to be frozen like this then an explosion could happen."
Earlier on Sunday a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli police officer in Jerusalem's Old City, who then shot the assailant, police said. Both men were wounded in the exchange.
On Friday, a Palestinian shot and killed an Israeli hiker in the West Bank.
Netanyahu warned at his weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday that attacks against Israelis would continue unless the world takes Israel's security concerns into account.
"In international proposals that are proposed to us, or actually are being imposed on us, there is no real addressing of Israel's security needs or other national interests of ours," he said.
At a press conference after meeting Fabius on Sunday evening, Netanyahu reiterated Israel's demand that the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state. The Palestinians recognize Israel as a state, but have refused to recognize its religious character, fearing that doing so would undermine the rights of Israel's Arab minority and demands for the return of Palestinian refugees.