French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday called for the “rapid resumption of negotiations” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, thus tempering declarations by his Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner who had called for the immediate recognition of a Palestinian state without prior Israeli approval.
Mr. Sarkozy made these remarks at a joint press conference with Mahmoud Abbas, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority who is on a visit to Paris.
In an interview published on Sunday, Mr. Kouchner had called for the “proclamation of a Palestinian State, and its immediate recognition by the international community, even before negotiating its borders”.
Such a move, Mr. Sarkozy said, would be impractical without internationally-recognised borders. “We have always said we want a viable Palestinian state,” he said. Mr. Sarkozy who has called for the holding of an international conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict said that he would work for the creation of “a modern, viable Palestinian state” which, like Israel, would have Jerusalem as its capital and which would be drawn up according to the borders of 1967.
In addition, any solution to the Mideast crisis must also include a discussion on the fate of the Palestinian refugees, Mr. Sarkozy said.
Mr. Abbas said a unilateral declaration of statehood would be undertaken only “in accordance with European nations and the United States”.
Mr. Kouchner's remarks had led to sharp criticism from Israeli quarters. “Imposing this kind of semblance of a partial solution from outside goes against the very idea of peace,” a senior Israeli official told Agence France Presse (AFP) on condition of anonymity. “Granting recognition when the issues of the conflict have not been settled would add fuel to the fire. This would only push the Palestinians to be even more intransigent and thus make any compromise impossible,” he added.
Mr. Sarkozy also unequivocally condemned the assassination of a Hamas commander in Dubai, saying “It's an irrevocable condemnation. This kind of event can only increase tensions.” The Israeli secret service Mossad is the prime suspect in the killing in which forged Irish, British, American, German and French passports were used by the killers.
In a statement published today the EU also strongly condemned the use of forged European passports but made no direct reference to Israel. “The EU strongly condemns the fact that those involved in this action used fraudulent EU member states' passports and credit cards acquired through the theft of EU citizens' identities,” the statement said. The Jewish state has refused to confirm or deny involvement in the death of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, who was killed in a hotel in Dubai on 19 January.
Meanwhile, a top Emirati official has urged European investigators to launch full-scale probes into how fraudulent passports had been used. UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the Gulf country is deeply concerned that the suspected assassins used expertly doctored passports from nations that do not require advance UAE visas.