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Israel/Palestinian Territories

Published on July 17, 2014
Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to France Culture (excerpts)

Paris, July 16, 2014

(…)

Q. – Let’s begin, if you don’t mind, with the international situation and Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip. Day eight of the conflict; there have been more than 200 deaths on the Palestinian side, 80% of whom were civilians according to the UN, a first death on the Israeli side yesterday, the ceasefire proposed by Egypt which failed to take off. (…)

THE MINISTER – Our number one objective is the ceasefire, because the current situation is terrible. On the one hand, you’ve got 200 deaths since yesterday on the Palestinian side. It’s an appalling situation. And, on the other, you’ve got Israel being subjected to rocket fire by Hamas.

Our goal is peace and security; this is why we’re saying “immediate ceasefire”. It’s why I supported – I had him on the telephone yesterday – the Egyptian Foreign Minister. Egypt proposed a wholly satisfactory plan. It was accepted by Israel; unfortunately Hamas didn’t accept it. I hope the ceasefire is going to be able to be achieved.

The ceasefire must lead to a truce, which itself will be valid only if both Israel’s security and Gaza’s access are discussed, of course; there are the two aspects. Then there must – because it’s at the root of the issue – be a genuine move towards political negotiation. As long as you have a situation where, on one hand, Israel’s security isn’t ensured and, on the other, the Palestinians’ rights to justice aren’t ensured, you’ll obviously have this tragic situation we’ve got at the moment. (…)

Q. – So what role is there for French diplomacy in 2014 in this conflict? We don’t get the impression it’s a priority for François Hollande.

THE MINISTER – It is, absolutely. France has, and this is its strength, both trustful relations with Israel – there are points on which we agree with its policy and points on which we disagree, and Israel knows perfectly well that we’re very committed to its security – and we also have close relations with Mahmoud Abbas – not Hamas, but Mahmoud Abbas.

And so France has this essential virtue of being able to talk to both. I myself am considering – if need be, if necessary – going to Egypt, because that’s currently where this is happening.

So we’ve got that role. We’re pressing Europe to take even further action and we can act as a bridge, which is essential – not alone of course, but with the others – by using our special status as a permanent member of the Security Council. (…)./.

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