Israeli leader takes swipe at French peace initiative

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Israel's leader has greeted the visiting French foreign minister with a swipe at a French initiative aimed at restarting Palestinian peace talks.

Paris is to host an international meeting at the end of the month to discuss moving the peace process forward. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Sunday that direct negotiations, without preconditions, are the best way to reach a final agreement and that "any other attempt only makes peace more remote and gives the Palestinians an escape hatch to avoid confronting the root of the conflict."

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is on a one-day visit to meet with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinians have welcomed the French proposal.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, mediated by the U.S., collapsed in 2014.