On Monday 28 November, 2016, the Palestinians welcomed a French plan to hold an international conference on the two-state solution in Paris at the end of December. The PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said “We have encouraged France to go ahead with its initiative and supported its efforts to have a multilateral conference before the end of the year,” after meeting with French envoy Pierre Vimont in Ramallah.
In Ramallah he received a warm welcome from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Erekat. They urged Vimont not to let Israel “sabotage” the international conference. Erekat said “Israel is a state that does not only refuse to attend international conferences, but refuses to recognize Palestine, to implement signed agreements, UN resolutions or simply to abide by its obligations under international law. Israel wants only to maintain the status quo and to continue with its settlement policies and land grabs.” He noted that next year marks “50 years of the Israeli occupation.”
In Jerusalem Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Abbas to immediately hold direct negotiations with him. “The quest for peace is difficult but we remain committed to it,” Netanyahu said. “And you know, Mr. Prime Minister, every time there is a foreign leader here I always say: Look, I’ll be happy to begin peace negotiations without any conditions of course but direct negotiations with President Abbas,” Netanyahu said.
Abbas has persistently rejected such calls, stating that Israel must halt all settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem before such talks could be held.
Meanwhile, a group of Israeli settlers on Sunday afternoon have taken over an agricultural Palestinian-owned agricultural land in the northern Jordan Valley. A local resident told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that the villagers were able recently to obtain an Israeli court verdict that gave them back part of their lands that had been seized by settlers in a previous incident. He affirmed that this court verdict, however, was never respected by Jewish settlers living near their hamlet.
He added that a group of settlers seized once again on Sunday their agricultural land and embarked on cultivating it for their own use.