Margot Wallström: Det talade ordet gällerUtrikesminister Margot Wallströms tal vid The Cairo Conference on Palestine - Reconstructing Gaza, från den 12 oktober 2014.
A six year-old girl in Gaza has experienced three wars during her lifetime. During the course of a few short weeks this past summer, more than 500 children died. Families were torn apart. Schools were destroyed. The hopes and aspirations of young Palestinians – the generation of the future – were once again crushed.
Now, arms seem to have come to rest again.
We need to keep it that way, through determined diplomatic and political efforts, and through substantial economic support. My country is trying to do both.
The Government of Sweden will recognise the State of Palestine.
Some say this announcement is premature – that it will make the peace process more difficult. Our own worry is rather the opposite – that it might be too late.
The peace process is stalled. Facts on the ground are rapidly changing and will soon render a two-state solution not only more difficult, but almost impossible.
There really is no time to waste. Our recognition aims at making the parties to the conflict less unequal. It aims at supporting moderate Palestinians, providing a positive injection into the dynamics of the Middle East Peace Process, and sending a clear and convincing signal to younger generations that there is an alternative to violence and an alternative to the status quo.
Sweden firmly believes that a negotiated two-state solution that guarantees the legitimate aspirations of both peoples in terms of security and national self-determination remains the solution.
We commend the impressive state-building efforts and reforms undertaken by the Palestinian Authority – often under very difficult circumstances. The Palestinian Authority has state-readiness. This has been recognised by the international community.
But recognition also means responsibility. Just as we have expectations on Israel – and they have been clearly voiced, including by the EU – we also have expectations on Palestine, not least since there is a willingness to continue reforms, and to have a strong and well-functioning consensus government in place. We expect the Palestinian government to fight corruption and nepotism, to guarantee respect for civil and political rights, to create opportunities for public participation and accountability, and to increase the political influence of women.
And we expect it – as well as the Government of Israel – to do everything to ensure that both peoples can live in peace and security. This cannot be done through bombs or rockets, war or violence, humiliation or threats. Genuine security can only be achieved through peace.
The consensus government in itself is a confirmation of the unity of the whole of Palestine: the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. They belong together, and they should be physically linked to each other, with Gaza as a window to the sea. This fact should be a guiding star for the international community in our aid to Palestine.
The focus today is on the people of Gaza.
The war made an already critical situation worse, generating immense needs: housing, infrastructure, schools and medical relief. To meet these needs, and to facilitate the development of a sustainable economy, the policy of the closure of Gaza must come to an end. Restrictions must be lifted. Mechanisms for import and – perhaps even more importantly – export are crucial conditions for economic development, state-building and basic services delivery. I welcome the constructive engagement of Israel in the establishment of the tripartite agreement to allow imports of construction material to Gaza. It is a small but important first step towards opening the borders.
The Swedish Government will soon adopt a new five-year plan for its development assistance to Palestine. It will focus on state-building, environment, climate and sanitation as well as private sector development. It will aim at creating conditions for women to enjoy their rights, shape political decisions and participate fully in the economy. And it will increase already the significant Swedish support to Palestine. Swedish annual assistance to the Palestinians amounts to over USD 100 million, including USD 40 million in core funding of UNRWA. This year USD 20 million has been assigned to humanitarian aid to Gaza. Today, I can announce that Sweden has decided to contribute an additional USD 10 million to Gaza in humanitarian and development support.
Palestinians need our solidarity and our long-term support to live on their land in dignity and peace.
We must not lose track of the real goal: a negotiated two-state solution and an end to the occupation.
We should all realise that giving people hope for a better life is a strategic way to obtain sustainable peace.
We owe this to the children of Gaza.