Peres to French FM: More worried about revolutions than war

President tells Michele Alliot-Marie that we'll keep trying to achieve peace; Alliot-Marie visits Gilad Schalit's parents.

peres Alliot-Marie 311 (photo credit: Mark Neiman \ GPO)
peres Alliot-Marie 311
(photo credit: Mark Neiman \ GPO)
Recent disturbances in the region have prompted President Shimon Peres to be more concerned about revolutions than wars, and the repercussions that such revolutions might have with regard to other states in the Middle East.
He shared his concerns with French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie when the two met at Beit Hanassi on Thursday morning, just a little over an hour before being informed that his wife, Sonia, had died.
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“We have difficulties with the peace process, but that’s not an excuse for disillusionment, nor will it deter us from trying,” Peres told his guest.
The major problems in the Middle East are revolutions rather than wars, he continued.
“We see the beginning of revolutions, but not the end, and that creates a situation of illegitimacy in other countries in the region.”
The role of the European Union and France was to inject legitimacy into the present situation, and thereby prevent further chaos, the president said.
Peres underscored the value of the economic assistance that has been rendered to the Palestinians, saying that this contribution to the quality of their lives gives them hope for the future. Just talking about peace, without progressing, is nothing more than a photoopportunity, he said.
In analyzing the status quo between Israel and the Palestinians, Peres said that there was a paradox in that differences have become smaller, but distance greater.
Peres told Alliot-Marie how happy he was to see her in the role of foreign minister.
She has been the only woman who has served as defense minister, interior minister and foreign minister, he said.
Alliot-Marie has visited the region in some of her previous capacities, but this is her first visit since assuming her current position on November 14.
She had come, she said, to endorse and enhance the friendship that exists between France and Israel and to discuss further areas of cooperation.
She noted that during the recent fire on Mount Carmel, France immediately came to Israel’s aid. Crises sometimes create new opportunities for strategic cooperation, she said.
Alliot-Marie welcomed the fact that Israel has been accepted as a member of the OECD, adding that when Israel’s representatives come to Paris for OECD meetings, this, too, will provide additional opportunities for the strengthening of ties between the two countries.
France was closely observing what has been happening in the region, and was willing to do whatever possible to facilitate the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, she said.
She thanked Peres for the influence that he had exerted in ensure the functioning of the French Cultural Center and the French hospital in Gaza, as well as the French Industrial Park in Bethlehem.
“This is a definite contribution towards the peace negotiations,” she said.