Hamas and three other Palestinian groups on Friday condemned Paris talks aimed at restarting ‘moribund peace negotiations’ with Israel.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and his Fatah movement have thrown their weight firmly behind the French initiative, which hosts representatives of some 25 countries, the United Nations, European Union and Arab League, on Friday.
Israel has rejected the initiative and the militant Islamist Hamas group, which rules the Gaza Strip, has also condemned talk of a negotiated settlement.
“The ideas presented by France in the form of an initiative represent a serious infringement on the shared national principles of Palestinians, especially the right of return,” read a joint statement from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Several million Palestinian refugees live in the nations surrounding Israel, and Palestinians demand that they be allowed to return to their former land.
For Israelis, such a move poses an existential question to a Jewish state.
Palestinians and Israelis are not represented in the Paris talks, which aim to lay the ground for a full-fledged peace conference to be held by the end of the year.
“We stress our rejection of this initiative and of every move which aims to return to futile negotiations,” Friday’s statement added.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, French President Francois Hollande urged Israel and the Palestinians to make a “courageous choice” for peace.
After decades of failed negotiations, few believe the climate is right to bring together Israelis and Palestinians for another shot at solving one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.
But senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat said France’s bid offered “a flicker of hope” for a resolution to the conflict.