Foreign Minister Responds to French Foreign Minister’s Remarks

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
September 11, 1997

Foreign Minister David Levy has issued the following response to French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine’s comments today, Sept 11, 1997.

Israel is astonished at the content and timing of French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine’s comments on Thursday, Sept 11, 1997. His remarks serve no purpose whatsoever and do not contribute to promoting the peace process.

The French Foreign Minister’s declaration is without foundation. His accusations are false and ignore the terrorism that is being directed against Israel, injuring innocent civilians. That such a friendly country should take a one-sided position is unacceptable.

His remarks and timing also raise doubts about his intentions. At a time when the U.S. Secretary of State is in the region and, along with the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, is striving to resume security cooperation and bring the peace process back on track, Minister Vedrine states that the peace process is dead. This is a deplorable conclusion, which even PA Chairman Arafat does not share.

At a time when Israel declares its perseverance to the peace process despite the bloodbath which has overtaken it, Minister Vedrine is expressing a fatalism whose purpose is despair and stalemate.

More than any other party, Israel is striving to prevent senseless suffering to its civilian population. The steps Israel is taking are meant for self-defense only. If the Palestinian Authority had fully complied with its contractual obligations and taken aggressive action to defeat terrorism, we would not be in this situation today.

Israel expects France and other European Union members to fully exercise their influence on the Palestinian Authority so that it fully implements its commitments.

The peace process is based upon fundamental reciprocity and the implementation of agreements. Preventing violence and terrorism is the key to true peace.

The special relationship between Israel and France has always been characterized by direct and constructive dialogue, and Minister Vedrine would do well to continue this approach, which has contributed to the creation of such efficient mechanisms as the Southern Lebanon Monitoring Committee in which France is a member, with Israel’s agreement.