Peace Conference in Paris
Letter to President of France François Hollande
Friends of Israel Initiative Board Members ask President Hollande to cancel the Peace Conference to be held next January 15 in Paris.
2017-01-08 by Friends of Israel Initiative
Palais de L'Élysée
55 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré
75008 Paris, France
January 5th, 2017
Dear Mr. President,
We are a group of former Heads of State, Heads of Government, Nobel Laureates, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense, Military officers, Historians, Scholars and Business Leaders with a simple goal: to insist on a fair and reasonable debate about the State of Israel, the fate of which we see as intimately intertwined with the fate of our own nations in this troubled era.
In the spirit of the search for lasting solutions in the Middle East, we write to urge you in the strongest possible terms to call off the peace conference you plan to host on January 15. The conference will do nothing to accomplish peace and instead result in further harm to its very prospects.
We note with some alarm the narrative proposed by French diplomats in the media surrounding this endeavor, born no doubt of genuine concern but not of genuine opportunity, and framed in terms that are inaccurate and untimely.
Coming in the wake of UN Security Council resolution 2334, and U.S. Secretary of State Kerry's subsequent speech on December 28 of last year, both of which gravely misportrayed the realities underlying the conflict and have damaged prospects for peace, the Paris conference would undeniably also serve to reinforce currents of diplomacy that run directly counter to peace. A fundamental truth of the conflict remains that peace can only be achieved on the basis of direct negotiations between the parties with no preconditions.
It is worth reminding Western leaders in this context, that the Prime Minister of Israel has unceasingly called upon the Palestinian President to come to the negotiating table over the last eight years. Instead, President Abbas has pursued a strategy of internationalization, mounting a diplomatic assault on Israel in secondary fora that serve as biased echo chambers and in reality bear no connection to an eventual solution. As part of this campaign United Nations bodies in recent weeks have had the audacity to deny a Jewish connection to Jerusalem and UNSCR 2334 declares the holiest site in Judaism as occupied territory while misrepresenting Jewish settlements in the West Bank as a central obstacle to peace. Yet the resolution and accompanying narratives do not make an even remotely adequate attempt in outlining the required steps of the Palestinian leadership on the path to peace, notwithstanding that one half of this leadership is comprised of a terrorist organization sworn to Israel's destruction, which has never shown any inclination to moderate.
Further, not only would the timing of the conference be most peculiar in light of the transition of power in the United States, but we would urge upon you to be cognizant that the grave violations of Israel's legitimate rights, religious sensitivities and diplomatic and security concerns that have been so flagrantly applied in the diplomatic arena recently will undoubtedly continue to see the Israeli government assert his country's interests vigorously.
The people of Israel have been extraordinarily astute at fighting our shared primary national security threat of terrorism, and generous in sharing their expertise and capabilities even during times of relentless diplomatic hostility. France has a long and proud history of leadership among Europeans on diplomatic matters related to the search for peace. We urge you to take these incontrovertible considerations to heart and continue to show leadership in acknowledging that the conditions are not in any way conducive to constructive outcomes as stand, and to ensure that France plays a positive part in protecting the important alliance between our nations and the State of Israel by not permitting the Paris meeting to build on the deeply damaging hostile diplomatic efforts aimed at Israel of recent months and weeks.
Hon. José María Aznar, former President of Spain
Hon. Stephen Harper, former Prime Minister of Canada
Hon. John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia
Hon. Lord David William Trimble, former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Nobel Peace Prize in 1998
Hon. Luis Alberto Lacalle, former President of Uruguay
Mr. John Baird, former Foreign Minister of Canada
Mr. Uri Rosenthal, former Foreign Minister of Holland
Mr. Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, former Minister of Defense of Germany
Ambassador Giulio Terzi, former Foreign Minister of Italy
Ambassador John Bolton, former U.S. representative to the U.N.
Mr. Bill Richardson, former Governor of New Mexico
Professor Andrew Roberts, British historian and writer
Mr. Richard Kemp, Colonel (R.) British Army
Mr. Allen B. West, Lieutenant Colonel (R.). Member of 112th US Congress
Mr. Roberto F. Agostinelli, Managing Director at Rhône Group, Rhone Capital
Mr. George Weigel, distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center
Mr. Carlos Alberto Montaner, Exiled Cuban author and journalist
Ms. Fiamma Nirenstein, Italian politician, journalist and author
Mr. Carlos Bustelo, Former Industry Minister of Spain
Mr. Rafael L. Bardají, Executive Director Friends of Israel Initiative