After the interview about Gaza granted to Apolline de Malherbe, the presenter of RMC, Dominique de Villepin returns to address the developments of the war and what can be done to stop it with the frankness and expertise that is recognized by all.
The former French prime minister, who led France’s opposition to the war in Iraq, and who is considered one of the best diplomats the West has produced in recent decades, speaks to France Info in the video below.
The transcription of excerpts from the interview follows (the words in bold in the answers reflect the emphasis in de Villepin’s voice).
The Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu failed on October 7th and failed doubly. First of all, in its ability to ensure the protection of the Israeli people, by allowing massacres that are an abomination to happen. It bears direct responsibility for what happened. And its second failure is having encouraged a policy of occupation and colonization, which continues at this moment in the West Bank and constitutes another threat to Israel if a second front were to open there.
Force does not ensure the security of a people! This is what all Israelis must understand today. And what is important is that since October 7th, the Israeli government’s choice has been to escalate the use of force. You know, neither force nor vengeance ensures peace and security. What ensures peace and security is justice! And justice is not being served today. The rationale of the Israeli government for the bombings taking place today is flawed, and the whole international community can see it. The principle is: “we target terrorists, and unfortunately, there are also civilian populations,” what is euphemistically called in military language “collateral damage.” It must be understood that this collateral damage is not accidental. That is to say, it is perfectly predictable and fully accepted.
Host: “But once again, the responsibility is not solely Israeli.”
But again, let’s stop asking about responsibility; let’s look at the reality of what’s happening on the ground! Assigning fault, if I might say, we will leave to the historians. What we want is to stop this violence, to stop these massacres. Israel is putting itself in even more danger today with this type of warfare and these types of strikes.
We are essentially dealing with a policy of vengeance from the Netanyahu government. Israel has the right to self-defense, but self-defense does not give the indiscriminate right to kill civilian populations. When you target an ambulance, you can always imagine that there was a terrorist in one of the ambulances, or not. But the result is that there are children, women who die. Every child, every woman killed, that’s more terrorists. Therefore, Israel’s objective, what Israel achieves, is exactly the opposite of what they wish. So, it is essential today to change this logic and return to a strategy that is sound.
Everything must be done to secure the release of the hostages. But let’s not forget: the Palestinian people have also been taken hostage, by Hamas and by Israel. And Hamas, we all know, cares little for the Palestinian people. So telling Hamas: “we will not lift the siege, we will not have a humanitarian truce until the hostages are released,” is sure to fall on deaf ears.
Benjamin Netanyahu is waging a war to make absolutely sure that the political solution does not come to the table. And this is where the international community, Europe, and the United States must tell Benjamin Netanyahu that this war is not acceptable. It is not acceptable because it leads us directly [to escalation] – because it is easy for us to see; from Hamas we will move to Iran, from Iran we will move to other targets, and then we enter into the logic of a clash of civilizations. When Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu says that on one side there are the people of light and on the other the people of darkness, we can see the kind of spiral we are getting into.
All the wars that have been going on for the past twenty years are wars that began but have not ended. These are frozen conflicts. We know how to start a war; we do not know how to end one. Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu could control Gaza and it would change nothing. There will continue to be terrorist attacks, and Israelis will continue to live in fear. We must get out of this.
The second reason why this is yesterday’s war is that the war against terrorism has never been won anywhere. Force is not the answer, once again. Vengeance is not the answer. The answer is justice, and that is what all the peoples of the world, all those who are watching what is happening today, call for – justice.
Today the direction we must follow is to prevent Benjamin Netanyahu from continuing his suicidal logic, which will make Israel a besieged state. They can besiege Gaza, but they will be besieged. And do not think that tomorrow we will have a pacified discourse that will normalize the situation with Saudi Arabia again, or with the Arab states: no! The wounds of history are awakening.
Israel’s interest is to have a responsible state at its side. And this responsible state, let’s stop splitting hairs, must clearly be the West Bank, all of the West Bank. It must be Gaza, with access between the two territories, and East Jerusalem. The problem, and this is the whole point of Benjamin Netanyahu’s escalation, is that Benjamin Netanyahu does not want this.
Furthermore, the policy of separation must be dignified. That is, it must confer to the Palestinians a state where they can live, a viable state, a true state, which can build itself and which will be all the more at peace…
Host: “Does that mean that the settlements in the West Bank have to be removed?”
Well, when we left Algeria, there were a million French who left Algeria. Today there are 500,000 Israelis colonizing the West Bank, and there are 200,000 in East Jerusalem.
Host: “They must leave the West Bank?”
Yes. Yes, that is history, that is responsibility, that is the price! I tell you solemnly, it is the price of security for Israel! And all those today who believe that it will never be enough are pursuing the worst policy.”
Translation by Paul Rosenberg
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