Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs at the conference for peace in the Middle East

Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström at the international conference for peace in the Middle East, Paris 15 January 2017.

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Dear Colleagues and Excellencies,

I am very pleased to be here today together with more than 70 countries and organisations gathered in order to save and promote the two-state solution.

Let me start by commending my esteemed French colleague Mr. Ayrault and ambassador Vimont for the impressive leadership shown by taking this initiative. I realize the challenging work that has gone into this initiative. Now we have a unique opportunity to try and meet the expectations of the region. I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to Secretary Kerry for his strong engagement.

We meet with a sense of urgency. And we are here today to renew our efforts on one of the most complex and longstanding conflicts. On Tuesday, Sweden as the current president of the UN Security Council will chair the next debate on the Middle East peace process. This peace process has been a Swedish priority for decades.

I would like to make three points : The two-states solution, land to build on and the importance of civil society.

1. Firstly, the two-state solution must become a reality. The legitimate aspirations of both parties must be met through direct bilateral negotiations. Meanwhile, we must abstain from any actions pre-judging the outcome of future negotiations, such as the status of Jerusalem. I believe a momentum has finally been created to break the dead-lock, let us assume responsibility and go from words to action, respecting international law and human rights. My Government recognized Palestine in 2014. This was a logical step not only to recognize the Palestinians right to self-determination, but also a way of making the two parties less unequal in future negotiations.

2. Secondly, there must be land to build on, to consolidate a democratic, viable and sovereign Palestinian state, living peacefully side by side with Israel. When I visited Palestine last month, everyone was clinging to their maps. In Palestine maps are everything, because they show how Palestine is rapidly shrinking. I could feel the Palestinian frustration over the deteriorating situation, where everyday life is affected: Trade, fishing and the farmer I met who could not even reach his own olive trees. There was also a feeling of abandonment by the international community. In this respect, the recent Security Council resolution 2334 was truly a milestone, highlighting the serious threat to the two-state solution.

3. Thirdly, we must do all that we can to recreate hope about a better future which involves civil society. Women and youth must be part of this. Youth born after the Oslo-agreement don't believe in a two-state solution. This message was clear when Sweden led the consultations with some 150 CSO:s in our working group for civil society in Israel and Palestine, as part of the French initiative. Rebuilding trust between the two peoples is necessary and urgent in order to revive prospects for peace. To rekindle a public debate on this is of paramount importance. Sweden stands ready to host a CSO-Forum this spring.

I believe that the vision of the two-state solution has been re-energized. Now we must stay engaged and make sure that today's participation is a commitment to genuine continuation and follow-up. Let us send a clear message that we are here to support and encourage the parties to reach a two-state solution. I feel privileged to be part of our joint effort in re-creating hope.

Thank you.

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