Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold.
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
While Jerusalem remains adamantly opposed to the French diplomatic initiative, enshrining Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people would be an important step, Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold told The Jerusalem Post.
“There are many problems with the French initiative, one of them is the lack of recognition of a Jewish state,” Gold said Thursday. “But even if that were changed, it wouldn’t alter many fundamental problems with the French initiative.”
Gold voiced anger at France’s vote last month at the UNESCO executive board meeting in favor of a resolution on Jerusalem that expunged any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.
“When French diplomats vote for a resolution at UNESCO that rejects the historic Jewish connection to Jerusalem, it should not come as a surprise that Israel rejects the French initiative and the political horizon it aspires to ultimately expose,” he said.
Gold, on the eve of Sunday’s visit by French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, reiterated Israel’s opposition to the plan, which includes a meeting later this month in Paris to set out parameters of a peace deal, and a follow up international conference later this year. Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority has been invited to the summit.
“It would be much easier for Abbas to come to Jerusalem to meet Prime Minister Netanyahu, rather than set up this multi-state enterprise in Paris, which I don’t think gets us any closer to a negotiated solution, and in fact makes a negotiated solution more distant,” Gold said.
In addition to diverging from the principle that a settlement will come through direct negotiations between the sides, Gold said that one of the major things missing from the French initiative is any type of Palestinian recognition of the rights of the Jewish people to a nation-state of its own, something the Palestinians have consistently refused to do.
“I don’t see in the principles put forward by the French initiative some reference to the Jewish state,” he said.
Asked whether the addition of such a clause would lessen Israel’s opposition to it, he replied, “I think that would be a very important factor. All I’m saying is that there are things missing in this initiative.”
On another matter, Gold defended Netanyahu’s declaration last month during a special cabinet meeting held on the Golan Heights that Israel would never leave the territory to which it extended Israeli law in 1981. The premier has come under some criticism for this move, with opponents arguing that he triggered a response by the international community, which included statements from several capitals – including Washington – stating that they do not recognize Israel’s control over the area.
“Today we are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement,” Gold said of the accord that divided the former Arab territories of the Ottoman Empire.
“But you don’t have to be an international diplomat to image that it is very possible that in the basement of one of the chancelleries in Europe or elsewhere, there is a modern Sykes-Picot sitting down and trying to imagine how the Middle East will be divided in the future. Before anybody gets any ideas about the Golan Heights it was important for the prime minister to lay down his claim that the Golan will remain Israeli territory.”
The full interview with Gold appears on Page 13.