The Ministre d’Etat will conduct a tour of the Middle East region from January 19 to 23, 2011. Michèle Alliot-Marie will make successive visits to Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Egypt and Jordan.
This is the Ministre d’Etat’s first visit to the region since she took office; it will take place in the context of an Israeli-Palestinian peace process that is in deadlock. One of the main objectives of the Ministre d’Etat’s visit is to explore how France and its European partners, in collaboration with the United States, can help relaunch direct negotiations, the only way to achieve a lasting solution to the conflict. She will stress the need for all parties to avoid any provocation.
The Ministre d’Etat will reaffirm France’s support for the two-fold objective of achieving a viable Palestinian State and guaranteeing Israel’s security.
A visit to the Gaza Strip is planned; the Gaza Strip is an integral part of the Palestinian Territories and remains at the heart of our concerns and our cooperation efforts. The Ministre d’Etat will also reaffirm France’s support for the civilian population which has been especially hard-hit. She will notably visit the French Cultural Center in Gaza and the Al-Quds Hospital which was recently rehabilitated thanks to French funding. Michèle Alliot-Marie will also meet with UNRWA representatives on the ground.
Michèle Alliot-Marie will also go to Sderot (Israel) to meet with the Israeli population severely impacted by the firing of rockets. The Ministre d’Etat will also meet, in the tent that they have set up in Jerusalem, the parents of our young compatriot, Gilad Shalit, who has been held hostage since 2006, in order to assure them of France’s commitment to securing his release.
After 2 days in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the Ministre d’Etat will go to Egypt and then Jordan, two key supporters of the peace process that can make a useful contribution to relaunching the talks.
This visit will also provide an opportunity to address regional issues and the status of our bilateral relations with each of our partners.
This regional tour will provide an opportunity for Michèle Alliot-Marie to renew our solemn appeal for tolerance and the respect for the freedom of conscience and religion that she launched in Doha last week at the "Forum for the Future."
Finally, the Ministre d’Etat will meet with the members of the French community during each stage of her visit.