US/Middle East peace process
THE MINISTER – I thank my friend George Mitchell for stopping off in Paris after the Quartet meeting in Moscow which has just taken place. I know this meeting was difficult and that the text published following the conference is very important. The Quartet’s commitment is clear, the conditions are clear, and, thanks to George Mitchell in particular, this is a further argument for having a bit of hope. I’m not saying the past few days have been very encouraging with the announcement of the building of 1,600 homes in Jerusalem and the West Bank. France reacted, as the United States had done, with very firm statements.
We – the United States of America, France and the European Union – are extremely firm [on this]. I briefly draw your attention to the fact that, on 8 December 2009, the 27 European Union countries published a text with the same aim in view. France is at the United States’ side in maintaining the necessity of immediately launching “proximity talks”.
This evening Senator Mitchell is going to Jerusalem and tomorrow will be meeting the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr Netanyahu, who talked to President Sarkozy two days ago. Subsequently, Mr Mitchell will have a meeting with the Palestinian leaders. I’m going to give him the floor right away, but want to express to you, and the American delegation, our full support. We are all keen to see the proximity talks starting again: I won’t talk about negotiations since that isn’t the right word. We are supporting you firmly, determinedly and, I hope, effectively.
Let me remind you that Mrs Ashton has visited Israel and went to Ramallah and Gaza with, as we know, the full support of the 27 European Union countries. George, thank you very much for travelling via France, for your meeting with us. Thank you very much for your determination, you will need it. If we can be of further use, as I suggested to you, we will be.
President Sarkozy will be in New York and Washington on 28 and 29 March.
Q. – (on relations between the United States and Israel and their impact on the Peace Process in the Middle East)
THE MINISTER – We share the same position but, admittedly, from time to time we can be disappointed, you drew attention to what happened a few days ago. I think the whole world is convinced that the first step of the solution is the creation of a Palestinian State which will guarantee Israel’s security through its presence, through its existence.
Everyone knows this. What’s at times a bit disheartening, even though we go on hoping, is that, while knowing this is the solution, we’re being very slow to reach it.
Q. – Minister, Senator Mitchell, what are you asking from Israel today?
Is it to give up the building of 1,600 homes in Jerusalem? What are the conditions today for the indirect negotiations?
THE MINISTER – Tomorrow Senator Mitchell will be going to the region and meeting the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, so I’ll let him speak.
For us, who aren’t asking better than to be involved in the actual process of the negotiations – which I’ve repeated, and we are supporting our American friends in their long insistence on the dialogue resuming between the Israelis and Palestinians – the French position is known: two States, a viable and democratic Palestinian State alongside an Israeli State to which we are absolutely committed, with Jerusalem as the capital of the two States. We are absolutely certain of this and I remind you that the 27 countries of Europe, the 500 million Europeans accepted this same position in last December’s statement. It provides huge support, which is available to both camps and of course our American friends./.