By Anees Bargouthi
RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) - Palestinian resistance factions collectively declared Friday their rejection of a French Mideast peace initiative, saying it violated longstanding Palestinian demands, including the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in what is now Israel.
"Ideas put forth in the French initiative constitute a serious encroachment on longstanding [Palestinian] demands, particularly the right of return," Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said in a joint statement.
The declaration coincides with a Friday meeting of foreign ministers in Paris aimed at drumming up support for the French initiative, the main aim of which is to restart stalled talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators.
"We reject the French initiative and all attempts to resume futile negotiations [with Israel], which have only led to the construction of more [Jewish-only] settlements [on occupied Palestinian land] and provided political cover for the ongoing Judaization of Jerusalem," the joint statement read.
While the French initiative has been welcomed by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, Israel has rejected the plan, saying that peace can only be achieved via direct talks between the two antagonists.
Israel-Palestine peace talks broke down in April of 2014 due to the Jewish state’s refusal to release a group of Palestinian political prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so.
Since then, all attempts to revive negotiations have failed, due mainly to Israel's refusal to reconsider its policy of unbridled settlement construction on occupied Arab land.
Palestinian negotiators, for their part, insist that Israeli settlement building must stop before a comprehensive peace agreement can be reached.