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Israel/Middle Peace Process/French Identity/ Influence

Israel/Middle Peace Process/French Identity/ Influence

Published on February 23, 2010
Interview given by Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to the “Journal du dimanche” newspaper (excerpts)

Paris, February 21, 2010


Q. – Is Israel a hooligan State, using friendly countries’ passports in order to carry out executions of her enemies?

THE MINISTER – We condemn targeted executions and use of false papers. The agents haven’t usurped the identities of any of our nationals, unlike in the case of the British, but they used a fake French passport and a false name. Our condemnation is categorical.

Q. – How far can this crisis with Israel go?

THE MINISTER – What has to eclipse this crisis is the assertion of Europe’s political role in order to impose, fast, the path of peace and creation of a Palestinian State. Having meetings with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President who I’m dining with on Sunday, means supporting the standard-bearer of the two-State solution. What’s important at the moment is to build facts on the ground: France is training Palestinian police officers; businesses are being set up on the West Bank… Then we can envisage the rapid proclamation of a Palestinian State and its immediate recognition by the international community, even before its borders are negotiated – I’d be tempted by that – by [recognition by] European countries. I’m not sure of being followed or even of being right.

Q. – But does this affair say something about what Israel is becoming?

THE MINISTER – It speaks of the need for peace and a Palestinian State, immediately. An Israel at peace would fully regain the values which underpinned her creation and are the reason why we are committed to her security and existence – why we are committed to her.



Q. – You want to promote French influence… When the former Belgian Prime Minister describes our debate on national identity as virtually Pétainiste, does it complicate things?

THE MINISTER – I’ve answered that. I would like our Belgian friends to manage their identity as well as we do.

Q. – Going beyond that dig, do you admit that the debate has damaged our image?

THE MINISTER – The debate isn’t over. It’s been very criticized in France too. That said, there is a French identity. There’s a need for France, a request for France and at the same time sometimes a rejection, because we were colonizers… It’s to address this request and ward off these rejections that we are creating this cultural network. This French identity is inseparable from what people expect from France. I see this expectation every day, read it in others’ eyes. What I see is an identity founded on history, literature, culture and human rights – and the French doctors, excuse me, are part of it – and also on a social system which protected us during the crisis.

Q. – For an anti-colonialist, who invented the globetrotting doctors, isn’t a debate concluding on the need to sing the Marseillaise in primary schools terribly old hat for France?

THE MINISTER – No. The Marseillaise in schools, yes. And I’m even sorry children no longer wear overalls in primary school, not out of nostalgia, but because that erased social differences. But of course, I know national identity doesn’t boil down to that… (…)./.

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