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Visit to the Palestinian Territories

Visit to the Palestinian Territories

Published on October 8, 2008
Press briefing given by M. Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to the French press (excerpts)

Jerusalem, October 5 2008
Bernard Kouchner met Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who’s responsible for forming the new government
AFP / G.Tibbon

Q. – A year on from the Annapolis summit on the peace process, will an agreement be reached at the end of the year?

THE MINISTER – Quite frankly, it’s not certain, but everyone thinks the negotiations will continue, even after the end of the year; that’s already a step forward. We’re not expecting an agreement before the end of 2008 as had been intimated in Annapolis, but I think everyone agrees on continuing the negotiation.
From far away, there’s a feeling that the Annapolis process has been more or less abandoned (…). After what I’ve seen in Jenin, I really think a Palestinian conscience is being created, a terribly strong one, with legitimate pride, supported by the European Union and France. (…)
There’s no idea of giving up the attempt to achieve peace and create the Palestinian State. Experts have been negotiating for 25 years and everyone knows that the creation of a Palestinian State is an enormous part of the solution.

– On the borders?

THE MINISTER – The borders are being negotiated. It’s one of the points in the negotiation on which Mr Abu Mazen and Mr Olmert, who, I remind you, is still Prime Minister, are making the most progress. In actual fact, we haven’t got any specific information on this. Issuing no information for such a long time, leaving things to develop between the two protagonists is perhaps a mistake. At all events, in my view, the negotiations aren’t over.
May I remind you that Mr Olmert has presented an admirable document, that of a courageous statesman. Has he done so too late? I hope not. In any case, it will be an essential document, an Israeli vision for peace.

– Aren’t the US and Israeli political timetables and even the Israeli-Syrian negotiations major obstacles to making progress on this agreement?

THE MINISTER – Perhaps, for the moment, but some people think, as President Bush has said, that Prime Minister Ehud Omert still has the possibility of moving forward, lighting a spark. Honestly, I think that this situation is delaying the process, even though it won’t permanently affect the negotiations.
I think the Israeli government has to be formed for the process to continue. An agreement is necessary at Israeli level. You know how things work with the system of integral proportional representation, you have to negotiate beforehand and it takes a very long time. Will it be possible to have an Israeli government in place soon? I don’t know at all, I hope so, but honestly, I think it’s going to take longer than people think.


– You are going to have a meeting with Tzipi Livni this afternoon: if she succeeds in forming a coalition, will she make a good prime minister for Israel?

THE MINISTER – I think so. I know her well, she is a highly talented woman, with great conviction, great integrity. No one can accuse her of conducting any policy not in line with her convictions. I think she will make a very good prime minister. I hope she succeeds. (…)./.

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