(The authentic text is only the one actually delivered)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to thank President Hollande and Foreign Minister Ayrault for organising this event.
Italy has supported the French initiative since the very beginning. To bring together all those countries committed to the goal of a fair and lasting peace in the Middle East. To build together new critical mass towards this common objective.
We have all invested, politically and financially, to help the Parties implement the Oslo Agreements. We are all determined to bring the conflict to an end.
Italy is very dedicated to the vision of Two States.
But this vision remains largely unaccomplished, despite our best efforts to strengthen Palestinian statehood; to provide security for Israel; to build trust between the Parties.
Further stalemate is dangerous. Especially because of the trends on the ground – violence, terrorism, incitement, settlements, expansion, occupation – that erode the hopes for peace based on the Two State Solution. These trends are a serious obstacle to the end of the conflict, but it would be misleading to single out settlement activity as the only problem. As long as terrorists are treated as martyrs, peace will remain out of reach.
There is a risk to fall from a “Two-State Solution” to a “One-State illusion”. This is not the solution. Not what Israeli and Palestinian citizens deserve.
I wish to stress some key considerations for Italy on the road ahead.
We all understand that a final-status agreement can only be achieved through direct negotiations. Peace cannot be imposed.
Our goal today is to encourage the Parties to go back to the negotiating table, to defuse mistrust, and to share the dividends of peace.
However, initiatives of States and International Organisations cannot be a substitute for the efforts of the Parties themselves. An international mechanism driven by interested participants cannot replace direct talks between the Parties.
Only the Parties can best define the path to peace, growth and development. This is very important for the entire Middle East.
At the same time, States and International Organisations may have the crucial task of setting the guiding principles for the dialogue between the Parties.
This is fundamental in the path towards the goal of Two States: the State of Israel for the Jewish People and the State of Palestine for the Palestinian People.
In fact, this long, complex and frustrating conflict has given negotiators a lot of time to define the broad lines of a final status deal.
The imperative today is to walk the extra mile and capitalise on our political courage.
The Arab Peace Initiative fully preserves its important forward-thinking vision. An element which is vital to defeat the destructive agenda of Daesh and other terrorist groups in the region.
The European Union, as well, is an essential supporter of the Two State Solution, ready to enhance privileged partnerships with the Parties as they move on the path to peace.
Let me also recall the huge diplomatic efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry to foster direct talks between the parties.
I’m confident that the new US Administration will build on the work so far, in order to contribute to a fair and lasting solution based on the Two State formula.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pope Francis recently stated: “No conflict should ever be considered as routine”.
He was referring to the Arab-Israeli conflict and to the risk of accepting the situation as “business as usual”.
The International Community cannot afford it. We shall not abdicate our mission to make the world a safer place.
That’s why we are in Paris: to reject “business as usual” and to move towards peace.