International community representing about 75 countries and organizations gathered on Sunday (15 January) to affirm their position on peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis, only a few days before US President-elect Donald Trump takes office. However, neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians nor the new US administration attended the conference. The represented governments therefore used the occasion to remind all sides that the only viable solution to the conflict is the two-state solution. French President François Hollande said that decades of talks to create a Palestinian state couldn’t be “improvised or overturned.”
The United States were represented by Secretary of State John Kerry but Mr. Trump’s administration did not extensively comment on the Paris gathering. Mr. Trump is known to be forcefully supporting the Israeli government and is even planning to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Some analysts believe that such a move could threaten the delicate balance that Washington has been always striving to keep in the region. Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, called Mr. Trump’s remarks a provocation. “A question as sensitive as Jerusalem can only be addressed in the framework of negotiations between the parties,” Mr. Ayrault commented.
Another controversial step taken by Mr. Trump is the appointment of his personal lawyer David Friedman as the US Ambassador to Israel. Mr. Friedman is known for his hardline political views and he has personally provided funding to Israeli settlements, widely regarded as the main stumbling block to a lasting peace, in the West Bank. In late December, Mr. Trump slammed the Obama administration’s move not to veto a United States resolution condemning the Israeli settlements.