President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday delivered a special address before the plenary of the European Parliament, in which he said that the French peace initiative “suffers from fundamental faults.”
“The attempt to return to negotiations for negotiations’ sake, not only does not bring us near the long-awaited solution, but rather drags us further away from it,” he told the European Parliament.
“Currently the practical conditions, the political and regional circumstances, which would enable us to reach a permanent agreement between us – the Israelis and the Palestinians – are failing to materialize,” added Rivlin.
“If Europe is interested in serving as a constructive factor in striving for a future agreement,” he continued, “it will be incumbent upon you its leaders, to focus efforts at this time in a patient and methodic building of trust. Not through divestments, but through investment; not by boycotts, but by cooperation.”
The President stressed the importance of building trust between the parties in order to create the right conditions for a peace agreement, and of the important role Europe could play in this vital process.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am standing here today and saying in no uncertain manner: from 1993, in which the Oslo Accords were signed, the elected Israeli leadership has been – and is – in support of the solution of ‘two-states for two peoples’. Furthermore, being well versed in the Israeli Parliament, I do know that any political agreement brought before the Israeli Knesset by an elected government will be approved.”
He went on to stress, however, that “with all the difficulty and pain involved, we must look at reality straight in the eye and tell the truth. Currently the practical conditions, the political and regional circumstances, which would enable us to reach a permanent agreement between us – the Israelis and the Palestinians – are failing to materialize.”
He added that above all, the lack of trust between the sides was a serious obstacle. “The most fundamental trait of Israeli-Palestinian relations today which is, to my deep regret, a total lack of trust between the parties on all levels; between the leaderships and the peoples,” said Rivlin.
Rivlin’s speech at the European Parliament comes amid a continued international push for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to resume stalled peace talks.
France is at the forefront of these efforts, having on June 3 hosted a summit in Paris in which foreign ministers discussed ways in which the international community could "help advance the prospects for peace, including by providing meaningful incentives to the parties to make peace."
On Monday, two days before Rivlin’s speech, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council’s voted to adopt the French peace initiative and act to convene an international peace conference in accordance.
Israel rejects the initiative and insists that the only way to achieve peace is by direct negotiations with the PA.