Reconstruction of Gaza
Sharm el Sheikh, March 2, 2009
I want to begin by reiterating France’s wholehearted solidarity with the Palestinian people, who have suffered too much, with all the civilian victims of this conflict which was an unnecessary conflict. Europe and France moved into action within the first hours of the crisis. Our first priority, with President Mubarak, was the ending of the fighting. There are no military solutions in Gaza. None.
The humanitarian situation is very worrying and, alongside her partners, France will go on responding to the humanitarian emergency. We have never abandoned the Gazans. During the crisis, we chartered nine planes loaded with emergency aid. We are going to continue our aid by financing the rehabilitation of a hospital in Gaza. We are going, President Mahmoud Abbas, to bring you financial aid so that you can compensate the owners of houses destroyed during the conflict and thereby kick-start the return to normal living conditions for the thousands of Palestinians who lost their homes. We are going to give direct budgetary aid to the Palestinian Authority so that, in all circumstances, it can go on providing basic public services and paying its civil servants’ salaries.
The permanent opening of the crossing points is a priority. Gaza must no longer be an open prison. This situation is in no one’s interest. Opening up of Gaza must go hand in hand with closing the tunnels. Israel must open the crossing points to allow unrestricted entry, from today, of humanitarian goods and then of all the goods necessary for life in Gaza.
FRANCE/PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY/WEST BANK/BETHLEHEM ENTERPRISE ZONE
President Mahmoud Abbas, France is providing full support to the Palestinian Authority, which prefigures the future Palestinian State we so want to see. As President Mubarak well knows, France has only one interlocutor: the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
Everyone remembers the Paris conference (…) where we succeeded in mobilizing $7.7 billion over three years for the Palestinian State. Thanks to the Palestinian Authority’s efforts, a $3 billion ambitious reform and development plan was adopted in 2008. This is an unprecedented success.
Rebuilding Gaza is essential, but the West Bank mustn’t be forgotten. I also want to say that, in the conflict we have seen, the fact that the Palestinian Authority kept the West Bank calm is no mean achievement. At the time when the various parties’ actions are being judged, I’d like us to have the honesty to recognize the performance of the Palestinian Authority, especially when it comes to the West Bank. (…)
I am happy to announce today the forthcoming inauguration of the Franco-Palestinian industrial zone of Bethlehem, the first enterprise zone to be created in the Palestinian Territories. These results are evidence of the Palestinians’ ability to manage their future State.
INTER-PALESTINIAN RECONCILIATION/NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT/HAMAS
Finally, inter-Palestinian reconciliation is one of the keys to peace and one of the conditions for the creation of a Palestinian State. The world wants to help the Palestinians, but the Palestinians must help themselves through reconciliation. Discussions between all the Palestinian parties are currently going on in Cairo. We support Egypt’s efforts to achieve a Palestinian national unity government. All Palestinians must come together in this unity government behind President Abbas.
I say to countries with links to Hamas: "You have a special responsibility to demand that Hamas join President Abbas whose peace initiative is the only one which will produce results. And if everyone had been reasonable, we would not have had to expend so much energy and then endure so much suffering". Finally, I say to all senior Palestinian figures and especially the leaders of Hamas: "If you want to be considered legitimate interlocutors, you have to admit that there’s no path to the creation of a Palestinian State other than for you to embark resolutely on the quest for a political solution, and so dialogue with Israel, on the basis of the achievements of the previous negotiations.
If Hamas wants to be respected, it must have a respectable position. The respectable position is to take the view that there’s no solution other than a political solution with Israel. (…)
PEACE CONFERENCE/2009 YEAR OF PEACE
To conclude, 2009 has to be the year of peace. (…)
We know all the parameters of the agreement and in ten years, if we’ve done nothing, the parameters will still be on the table, nothing will have changed except that there will have been more hatred in the region and that there will be still less chance of peace. So what are we waiting for? For a government we like? For reasonable people? Well then, keep on waiting and there will be fewer and fewer reasonable people.
Reason and prudence dictate that we decide to have a peace conference before the end of the year, that we all work for it and that we demand it, impose it, because the Palestinians have the right at last to have a State; and because Israel also has the right to security and because the Palestinian Authority has to become a national unity government. (…)
Let’s make 2009 the year of the peace. This is the duty of each and every one of us and let me tell you, it isn’t just a political duty, it’s a moral duty, it’s a duty vis-à-vis the memory of all those who have lost their lives in this tragic conflict, all the peoples of the Middle East and the whole of mankind who would not recover from a conflict between East and West. May 2009 be the year for proactivism and thus the year of the peace.