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8 January 2009 - Gaza - Explanation of vote by Mr. Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, at the Security Council

We came together at the Security Council, despite the difficulties, for a single purpose: to obtain a cease-fire.

The draft resolution presented to us is commensurate with the very grave situation in the Mideast today. The mobilization of a large number of ministers from the region, like that of the Security Council, is evidence of this.

Gaza is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The violence has taken an extremely heavy toll. This evening, our hearts go out to the large number of victims, to the families on both sides whom this tragedy has plunged into mourning.

The immediate halt to the fighting is the absolute priority. The European Union, France and President Sarkozy, like many of you, have mobilized all their efforts in the past ten days to find a solution.

We are not putting the States - and here I include the State of Israel, just as I include the Palestinian State which we all long to see - on the same level as the movements whose sole ambition is to destroy the peace process by violence.

This draft includes the main parameters for ending the crisis: a halt to the rocket fire, the cessation of Israeli military operations, and a permanent cease-fire that will notably entail the opening of the crossing points and effective action against arms trafficking.

The European Union foreign ministers had proposed these parameters at their meeting of December 30 in Paris.

The President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, negotiated these parameters with the States of the region during his visit to the region. Following this initiative, President Mubarak proposed a peace plan to which the region’s leaders have responded favorably. For us this plan represents the only viable way out of the crisis, the only hope for peace, and we are pleased that the draft resolution encourages these efforts. The contacts under way between the Israelis and the Egyptians give us hope.

This evening, we express a single regret - the regret of a country that always advocated giving the United Nations and the Security Council a key role in the Middle East: despite our insistence, it was impossible for the Security Council to provide a little more time to allow the negotiators on the ground to narrow their differences. A little more time to allow the Security Council to enshrine, endorse the result of the negotiations under way to obtain a permanent and durable cease-fire.

This message of hope must be heeded without delay. The negotiations under way must very swiftly reach a positive outcome. Peace is imperative./.



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