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Palestinians’ right to a state – Joint article by Laurent Fabius and William Hague published in The Times newspaper (December 1, 2012)

Britain and France are strong supporters of the Palestinian people’s right to statehood. The United Nations General Assembly has just voted to grant Palestine non-member state observer status at the UN. Our two countries drew different conclusions about how the resolution could affect the peace process and cast our votes accordingly, with France supporting it and the UK abstaining. But we are absolutely united on the way ahead and the need for peace in the Middle East.

We believe that there must be an urgent return to negotiations on a two-state solution. This is the only way to reach a fair and sustainable peace agreement that will create a sovereign and viable Palestinian state, living in peace and security alongside the state of Israel. If progress is not made quickly, then the two-state solution could become impossible to achieve, which would be a tragedy for Israelis and Palestinians.

That is why we are calling on the US Administration to set out its commitment to a new effort to restart the peace process as a matter of urgency. France and the UK will give full and wholehearted support, as permanent Security Council members of the European Union, to a resumption of negotiations.

First of all, we firmly believe that for talks to begin, both sides must be willing to enter negotiations without preconditions. Creating barriers to negotiations only defers the day when we can see a peaceful settlement. It is also essential that the two parties avoid any decision that is incompatible with dialogue and any steps likely to undermine the viability of the two-state solution.

Second, it is essential that dialogue is resumed based on clear parameters. These include a border between Israel and the Palestinian state that must be based on the 1967 borders, with agreed and equivalent land swaps; solid security arrangements guaranteeing Israel’s long-term security, without undermining the sovereignty of the future Palestinian state; an agreement making Jerusalem the capital of the two states; and a fair and agreed settlement for refugees.

Third, we must maintain our strong support for the Palestinian Authority and help to build up the institutions of a future Palestinian state. France and the UK will also continue to support the action that the Palestinian Authority has taken over the past five years to establish a functioning State – as the international financial institutions have recognized. It is essential to consolidate Palestinian institutions on the ground.

Lastly, our support for the creation of a Palestinian state goes hand in hand with our commitment to Israel, in the face of those who threaten its security and challenge its right to exist. After the crisis in Gaza, we want to reaffirm that it is unacceptable that Israeli and Palestinian civilians are targeted. Violence will only lead to violence, not to a political solution.

Our countries are determined to work together to do all that we can to ensure that 2013 is a year of progress towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians.



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