In pursuit of peace: The view from Paris

The status quo is dangerous for Israelis and Palestinians alike. The apparent calm is illusory.

By CHRISTOPHE BIGOT
March 14, 2013 21:29
2 minute read.
Tel Aviv memorial for Yitzhak Rabin in 2001

Tel Aviv memorial for Yitzhak Rabin in 2001 370 (R). (photo credit: Havakuk Levison/Reuters)

Fatalism may prevail, skepticism may dominate. Twenty years of failures of summits and empty promises have left their marks.

Those who wanted peace all the way sometimes paid with their lives, such as Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin.

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Barriers and differences, far from diminishing with time, remain alive and kicking.

We do not come across any more Israelis in Ramallah than Palestinians in Tel Aviv. Ignorance, too, undermines hope.

Violence and terrorism have dealt a blow to the bodies and minds of the people, killing their beliefs and hardening the hearts of the most faithful and well-disposed.

Should we conclude that nothing can be done, that the situation is not ripe? This would be, I think, a huge mistake.

The status quo is dangerous for Israelis and Palestinians alike. The apparent calm is illusory.

For these two peoples, there is no other solution than a divorce, in order to establish reconciliation one day on an equal footing, in a real partnership.

The formula is certainly not new, but it has now become a matter of urgency.

There is no alternative to the construction of two states for two peoples, as presidents François Hollande and Shimon Peres recalled last Friday in Paris.

Existential security needs of the Jewish people, whose tragic story haunts the conscience of each of us, as well as the legitimate call for freedom and sovereignty of the Palestinian people, subject to occupation and colonization, need to be answered.

Of course, nothing is simple. The roots of the conflict are not only territorial, they are also about identity.

The outlines of a solution are known approximately, but peace is in the details, especially for those who live here.

To accept the painful sacrifices that a solution requires, to take on the inherent risks, everybody has to be convinced that it is both fair and sustainable, that it puts a real end to the conflict, and that it guarantees the independence and viability of a Palestinian state as well as Israel’s security.

In a region in turmoil, deprived of its usual points of reference, mutual trust has to be built up, suspicion has to be silenced.

The involvement of the international community is legitimate and necessary.

Jerusalem is central to the three monotheistic religions; the Mediterranean is our common basin. Nobody is able to impose peace, but nobody intends to walk away from this goal.

Global support is more than useful; it is indispensable – not for the purpose of negotiating an agreement on all final-status issues on behalf of the parties, but to ensure the security of Israel as well as a viable and sovereign Palestinian state.

It is the world’s task to aid peace, and to lead people, if necessary, to enforce it.

As a friend of Israel and the future Palestine, France is determined to help revive peace efforts in the European Union, alongside the United States and states of goodwill in the region.

Europeans will spare no effort to work with the new Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority towards the longawaited resumption of the peace process.

The upcoming visit of President Barack Obama to Jerusalem and Ramallah underlines the American involvement in the region. Let us all hope that this visit will enable a renewal of substantive and authentic discussion between Israelis and Palestinians over their common destiny.

The writer is the French Ambassador to Israel.


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