Israel, Palestinians disagree over summit final declaration
French foreign minister declares Mediterranean summit a success despite last-minute dispute between Israel and the Palestinians on founding text of union.14 July 2008
PARIS - Israel and the Palestinians disagreed over the final declaration at a Mediterranean summit and the wording will have to be changed, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday.
Kouchner said in a radio interview that the last-minute dispute between Israel and the Palestinians meant that the founding text of the Union for the Mediterranean "will have to be corrected a bit".
The dispute touched on the use of the term "national and democratic state"
to describe Israel, a term that "entails difficulties in terms of refugee return, Jewish or non-Jewish state," the foreign minister said.
President Nicolas Sarkozy and some 40 leaders launched the new union at a Paris summit on Sunday, hoping to inject new momentum in Middle East peace efforts and bolster cooperation in the troubled region.
"There are words, or a phrasing of words that are not suitable because they invoke a historical legacy, a legacy of tragedy and murder also," said Kouchner.
The final declaration was adopted but negotiations on the wording will continue along with talks on other details on the workings of the union such as the location of its permanent offices.
The foreign minister nevertheless hailed the inaugural summit of the union as "a magnificent event", saying it was held "against a backdrop of peace."
Leaders agreed on a batch of modest projects such as cleaning up pollution in the Mediterranean Sea, improving shipping routes and developing solar energy.
But the Middle East peace process loomed large over the gathering, with a flurry of meetings on the sidelines underscoring the need for progress.
[AFP / Expatica]