PARIS (AP) — France sees a window of opportunity after Israel's elections to get the United States on board with a new push for Mideast peace, and is preparing a draft U.N Security Council resolution in about 12 days, according to French diplomatic officials.
The draft would define the pre-1967 frontier as a reference point for border talks but allow room for exchanges of territory, designate Jerusalem as capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state and call for a fair solution for Palestinian refugees, one official told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
While the substance of the French draft may not differ much from past failed efforts to revive Mideast peace talks, France is hoping this time to avoid a U.S. veto at the U.N. because of increasing American frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The French official described a possible "backdoor" for negotiations now, and said "all actors including the Americans now realize that all other ways have been explored, without success."
After Netanyahu's election win and tough campaign comments against Palestinian statehood, the White House said it would re-evaluate the approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The French official praised the "pretty clear message sent by the Americans."
France is hoping to be able to present a resolution proposal in about a dozen days, the official said. The resolution would aim at presenting a framework for negotiations toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Another French official said France is working with the U.S. to gain backing for the new peace effort. France is also seeking support from European and Arab partners.
Neither official was authorized to be publicly named. They both declined to provide more details on the possible sticking points in the negotiations.
The weight of a Security Council resolution, which is legally binding, would add to international pressure on Israel.
Last year, the council rejected a Palestinian resolution demanding an end to Israeli occupation within three years.
The U.S. opposed that draft, saying Palestinian statehood can only be achieved through negotiations with Israel, not an imposed timetable. Part of the U.S. opposition at the time stemmed from concern about interference in the elections, though the U.S. also generally disapproves of the idea of the Security Council — and not the parties themselves — setting the parameters for negotiations.
Even if a new resolution were to avoid a U.S. veto and win U.N. backing, its prospects are unclear.
Israel opposes U.N. action on the conflict because it believes the world body is biased against it and that only direct negotiations can resolve the conflict. Israeli leaders also say an international resolution that essentially endorses the Palestinian negotiating position will make the Palestinians more intransigent in future talks.
Israel also remains opposed to returning to the 1967 borders, and insists that any peace process should include recognition of a Jewish state. France's proposal currently doesn't include mention of Israel as a Jewish state, one official said.
France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said last week France would move forward on discussions with its partners.
The French push comes as the European Union is assessing new ways to push Israel back to the negotiating table. The EU is exploring new diplomatic terrain and could consider ways to discourage Europeans from buying products from Israeli settlements it believes are illegal.
Middle East peace moves have been frozen for nearly a year, since the last round of U.S.-brokered talks collapsed.