France Says Europe Must Be More Than ‘Bank Window’ in Gaza

PARIS (Reuters) -

French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday Europe
had to play a bigger role to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and could no longer just play the role of a “bank window” for reconstruction after each war.

The European Union is the biggest aid donor to the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s biggest economic
partner, accounting for almost a third of its exports and imports.

However, it is deemed as having little influence
in efforts to reach a negotiated solution between both sides.

“For a solution to finally be reached, the United States’
role will be decisive,” Hollande said in an annual speech to French diplomats outlining foreign policy objectives.

“But Europe’s role is as important. It must act more. Europe does a lot to rebuild
and develop [the Palestinian territories], but it can’t simply just be a bank window
where we turn to heal the wounds after a recurring conflict.”

Paris has already said that if peace negotiations ultimately fail then the international
community would have to take the lead to find a solution.

“We have to go towards a progressive lifting of the
blockade and the
demilitarization of the territory,” he said, referring to a British-French-German proposal for creating a Gaza monitoring mission.