Netanyahu, Kerry to meet in Rome with French peace initiative on the agenda

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly will meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry next week in Rome.

The two leaders are said to be meeting to discuss Israel resuming peace talks with the Palestinians and more specifically the French peace initiative that Israel has rejected.

On Monday, the foreign ministers of the 28 European Union member countries approved a resolution backing the initiative and agreed to provide economic incentives to promote it.

Earlier this month, two dozen foreign ministers, including Kerry but excluding representatives of Israel and the Palestinians, met in Paris for a one-day summit on restarting talks between Israel and the Palestinians. They proposed an international conference to further talks by the end of the year but set no date.

Israel has called the peace initiative “an unfortunate step that pushes back efforts to provide the peace that Israel needs.”

“International conferences like those that the European Union’s foreign minister welcomed today push peace farther away because they enable the Palestinians to continue to avoid direct talks and compromise,” its Foreign Ministry said Monday in a statement.

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