Europe

Israel to miss French peace conference, wants direct talks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will not attend a French conference aimed at resolving conflict with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu's emissaries stated his position on peace talks to French Envoy Pierre Vimont on Monday.

His office said they told Vimont "true progress in the peace process ... will come only through direct negotiations ... any other initiative only pushes the region further away from this process."

It said Vimont was told that Israel will not participate in the French conference at the end of the year.

U.S. mediated peace talks collapsed in 2014.

Netanyahu has repeatedly called on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to meet for talks.

Abbas has refused unless Israel ends settlement construction and conducts a prisoner release that Netanyahu canceled.

The Palestinians have welcomed the French proposal.