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Israel rejects Paris 'peace' conference

    Israel and France are at logger-heads over Jerusalem's refusal to participate in a international peace conference that the French government is insisting on holding before the end of the year.

    Special French envoy Pierre Vimont held talks on Monday in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's representatives, who reiterated Israel's position that only direct talks with the Palestinian Authority can restart the stagnant diplomatic process.

    According to a statement from the prime minister's office, Mr Vimont was told that Israel believes the initiative will make peace less likely.

    The government of President Francois Hollande has been trying to gain international support for a conference in Paris for months now and, in June, brought together several foreign ministers for a preparatory meeting. Israel's refusal to participate is one of the main obstacles, however, as is the lack of clear support from the US administration.

    The French believe that with the elections over in America, such support will be forthcoming and still plan to hold the conference.

    Israeli officials fear that in such a setting, the Palestinians will be able to increase international pressure on Israel to agree to set pre-conditions ahead of direct talks.

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