CAIRO (AP) — France's foreign minister on Wednesday said his country would not automatically recognize a Palestinian state if proposed peace talks fail.
Speaking during a visit to Cairo, Jean-Marc Ayrault appeared to walk back comments made by his predecessor Laurent Fabius.
France has for months been preparing to hold a conference that would bring together the two parties and their American, European and Arab partners to revive the peace process.
On Wednesday, Ayrault restated that desire to organize an international conference on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in order to avoid an "imminent explosion." However he emphasized there would be "no precondition" from Paris.
"Nothing is ever automatic. France takes this initiative and is going to present it to its partners, so it's a first step. There is no precondition," he said. "What we want, that's our commitment, is to relaunch a political process of negotiation, to revive a peace process and that's our priority. So we'll do everything to create a favorable climate to revive the process."
A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the issue. Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the French proposal "baffling" and bound for failure.
Washington, which has traditionally acted as a peace broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has not taken a public position on the French plan and appears to be waiting to hear more details.
The last peace negotiations, mediated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, collapsed in April 2014, and the period since has been fraught with conflict. A war between Gaza militants and Israel later that year killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, and there is no end in sight to the current round of deadly Israeli-Palestinian violence that erupted last fall.
Israel says the current violence is fueled by a Palestinian campaign of lies and incitement. The Palestinians say it springs from frustrations over nearly half a century of Israeli occupation and failed peace efforts.