French PM visits Israel to push for peace plan

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls visited Israel on Sunday to advance his country’s plan to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts in the face of opposition from his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr. Valls, who arrived on Saturday night, is to meet Mr. Netanyahu on Monday before holding talks in Ramallah on Tuesday with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has welcomed the French initiative to hold a meeting of Foreign Ministers from a range of countries on June 3, without the Israelis and Palestinians present. Another conference would then be held in the autumn, with the Israelis and Palestinians in attendance. The goal is to eventually restart negotiations that would lead to a Palestinian state.

Mr. Netanyahu has criticised the initiative and called for direct negotiations between the two sides. — AFP