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Angry Israel Says French Ultimatum Guarantees Palestinian Intransigence

Israeli leaders, angry at French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius’s declaration that his nation will recognize a Palestinian state if its new proposals are not accepted, are insisting that the Fabius ultimatum virtually insures that the Palestinians will opt for the French recognition by eschewing any serious pursuit of a peace plan. The foreign minister announced on Friday that France will seek to convene an international conference aimed a jump-starting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and threatened recognition if the effort is not successful. The Palestinian reaction was ecstatic among leaders of the Fatah faction and the Palestinian Authority, which it controls, while Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, rejected the French proposal. The daily Haaretz quoted an Israeli official as saying, “Israel wonders if France will also propose an international peace committee with ISIS, an organization that sows and distributes terror in France.”  The French move comes as Israel’s leading opposition party is in a turmoil after its leader, Isaac Herzog, told French President Francois Hollande that the time is not right for a Palestinian state. He said, “…we have to be realistic. It [Palestinian statehood] can’t take place now. The hatred and incitement among the Palestinians is too great, the animosity between the peoples and the inability of the leaders prevent it.” Although Herzog’s remarks have apparently spawned new challenges to his continued leadership of the Labor party and the opposition bloc, some are applauding what is being seen as a pragmatic assessment given the spate of “popular terrorism” that has been rife since the beginning of October. Since that time, seemingly spontaneous attacks on Israelis, primarily in the form of random stabbings on the streets and vehicular homicides, have left 30 Israelis dead and more than 100 Palestinians, most of whom were killed by security personnel “in the act.” Also offering scathing criticism was Member of Knesset (Parliament) Odeh Ayman, head of the joint list of Arab parties, who accused Herzog of being a “faint shadow” of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Reminding the Labor chief that opposition is supposed to offer an alternative to the ruling coalition, he admonished that, “If he thinks that the two-state solution is irrelevant, then he’s irrelevant and should quit immediately.”