Q. – Negotiations are under way in Egypt, negotiations Hamas is taking part in. Has the Islamist movement actually become a partner we’ve got to talk to?
THE MINISTER – No. You know what France and Europe’s position is: we don’t recognize the Hamas movement, insofar as one of its goals remains the destruction of Israel. And we’ve said – and this is an international position – that in order for there to be an official dialogue, Hamas should recognize, as Fatah and President Mahmoud Abbas have done, both the State of Israel, the agreements reached, and at the same time renounce violence.
Q. – But France, all the same, is the only Western country to have a consulate in Gaza today. Well, officially it’s a cultural centre, but it’s a diplomatic representation.
THE MINISTER – We’re positioning ourselves in relation to the Palestinians. But as far as Gaza and Israel are concerned, I spoke to my colleague the Egyptian Foreign Minister on the telephone yesterday evening, and I want to pay tribute to the mediation role the Egyptians are playing at the moment. We discussed the basic issues, there’s only one day left to extend the truce, since it was concluded for three days; I hope there’s going to be progress.
Q. – Did he say whether or not it seemed to get off to a good start?
THE MINISTER – No, the positions are still far apart, but we’re working to get progress made. You may have noticed that France, with Britain and Germany, made proposals on Europe’s behalf for, in particular, us to supervise control of what’s called the Rafah area, i.e. between Gaza and Egypt, because this would allow the blockade to be relaxed. Israel’s security must be ensured, but we’ve got to work to get the blockade eased. And Europe, on France’s proposal, is active in the effort to achieve this. (…)./.