Visit to the Middle East
Q. – Can you give us an initial assessment of the meetings you’ve had?
THE MINISTER – The Spanish Foreign Minister and I wanted to concentrate on the resumption of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. As you know, this is a difficult time, one of wavering, almost deadlock. We’ve seen everyone: the Israeli Prime Minister, President of the State of Israel, Defence Minister, Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni and the Foreign Minister. On the Palestinian side we saw the President of the Palestinian Authority and, of course, the King of Jordan. The talks, negotiations have to resume. For this there’s – agreed on both sides – the prospect of a mini Paris summit then the prospect of the Barcelona Conference (UfM). So there are two meetings: at the end of October and end of November. Is it possible to restart a negotiation in the meantime? This is what we’re determined to achieve and we’ll be focusing all our efforts on.
On Thursday, Miguel Moratinos and I will be having a meeting with Mrs Clinton – we’re in constant touch with her. We’ve got to work alongside the Americans, not against the Americans which we’ve never wanted to do. That’s the assessment, that’s the hope: I won’t hide the fact that we’ve noted a big gap between the various interlocutors. A gap we must of course make every possible effort to bridge.
Q. – The Palestinians are giving this one-month deadline…
THE MINISTER – No, it’s the Arab League giving the one-month deadline, so the Palestinians are too. Is it flexible? Possibly, if the negotiations can get under way, if there’s a change of vocabulary, if both sides show goodwill – in short, if the conditions you’d like to see present in any good negotiation are fulfilled. It’s fairly easy to say and difficult to do.
These two meetings, the resumption of the negotiations, goodwill and openness on the Israeli Prime Minister’s side, continued tenacity of the Palestinian side and particularly Abu Mazen. Europe and the Americans must work together; this would be better, even though it’s not a guarantee of success.
Q. – Have you passed on to Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Mazen President Sarkozy’s invitation to come and meet each other in Paris?
THE MINISTER – They had already had the invitation, we got agreement. We still have to fine-tune all this, but both parties agree, as I’ve told you. The invitations have of course to be fine-tuned, the framework, date in some cases, but the principle has been accepted.
ABU MAZEN/OSLO ACCORDS
Q. – Today we see Abu Mazen talking about looking again at the Oslo Accords. He’s even wondering about the usefulness of the Palestinian Authority. Don’t you find this worrying?
THE MINISTER – What would be worrying would be a resumption of the confrontation. If you go back 20 years, 10 years or even 5 years, you’re astonished at the progress. We can see that a lot of progress has been made. Yes, of course, he’s worried. He has temptations, at his age and after all his efforts. Abu Mazen has always been in favour of peace, including against Arafat. It’s admittedly a dangerous time, one when we really have to keep on and on and be resourceful. He hasn’t given up. No one has given up.
Q. – But don’t you feel his position is hardening? These options are very clear, talked about by the Palestinians…
THE MINISTER – There’s a month, it isn’t a lot. Efforts have to be made to get the month extended.
Everyone knows what the parameters of a solution are. There’s a continuing lack of understanding on both sides: the reasons for the existence of the State of Israel, even though that generation, Abu Mazen’s, knows what they are, and then, on the other side, the lack of understanding of how much land was gained, how much land was lost.
But that shouldn’t prevent the political leaders from making every possible effort.
Q. – On balance, optimistic?
THE MINISTER – Reasonably optimistic. (…)./.