Dominique de Villepin: The key to peace in the Middle East

From the 2003 Dimbleby Lecture, delivered by the French Foreign Minister
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How can we respond to global threats without locking ourselves into a spiral of violence? We must start by trying to resolve current crises. They are like a sore, liable to fester and spread the infection. A commitment to justice has to be at the heart of everything - justice in the Middle East first of all.

We can't accept the status quo. We share the grief of the Israeli people facing the deadly, unacceptable violence of terrorist actions. We share the despair of the Palestinian people. But we cannot resign ourselves to a policy solely driven by security. Is it constructive to blame all the difficulties on Arafat? Is the building of the present security fence acceptable? Does this strengthen Israeli security?

The answer is no. The security of Israel and the sovereignty of the Palestinians cannot be dissociated. We have to realise this: we won't put an end to the spiral of violence unless we get recognition of Israel's absolute right to security and that of the Palestinian people to a state within the 1967 borders.

We must all take the initiative: the Quartet, Europe, America, Russia, the UN. This time, let's do it together. As the region's leading economic partner and the Palestinians' main supplier of aid, Europe has a special responsibility. Let us speed up the implementation of the road map by convening a peace conference. Let us guarantee the process by means of a collective monitoring mechanism and the deployment of an interposition force. There is no place for preconditions. We must map out a path towards peace, and persuade Israel and the Palestinians resolutely to embark on it. And there must be no turning back.