Discours d’Hélène Le Gal lors de la Marche de l’Espoir pour la Paix
L’Ambassadrice désignée de France en Israël, Hélène Le Gal, s’est rendue hier soir (17 octobre 2016) à Neve Shalom dans le cadre de la Marche de l’Espoir pour la Paix organisée par Le mouvement « Les femmes font la paix » (Women Wage Peace) et a prononcé le discours suivant :
« Member of Knesset Ksenia Svetlova,
Ms. Leymah Gbowee, Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize,
Women from all over Israel,
I’m truly thankfull to have been invited to this event. I was invited by Ms. Mary-Lyne Smadja, a longtime friend of the French embassy and an active figure of Women Wage Peace, and I want to thank her. I’m very honored to address this important gathering. I’m also very glad to come back to this very beautiful and symbolic place called Neve Shalom. Here coexistence is not a slogan. It’s a daily reality. And I would like to commend all the women present here tonight for their dedication to the cause of peace.
I’d like to start with just a few words about peace. At first glance, being “for peace” may sound obvious or basic : who could prefer war over peace ? Who wouldn’t want their children to grow up in a safer and quieter environment ?
And yet, it’s not obvious at all. In the Middle East and in many other places around the world, the term has often become politicized, tainted, controversial, and sometimes even suspicious. It is never a done deal. It needs to be constantly worked on.
We may not be in the same field – you’re activists or concerned citizens, I’m a diplomat – but we share the same goal : to put peace back on the agenda. Both our paths of action are essential. The reason why I choosed this difficult carreer is that I wanted to work for peace. I worked during 14 years on African issues and I have been already 4 years in Israel. I was present when Itzak Rabin was assassinated because he choosed peace.
The role of diplomacy – and France’s role, as a member of the Security Council and a key European country – is to continue to push for peace. It’s important to put forward initiatives aimed at restarting negotiations that have been stuck for too long. Our role is to present incentives for the parties to resume dialogue and guarantees that will help them reach a fair and lasting deal. But in the end, it is up to Israelis and Palestinians to make peace and nobody can make it instead of them.
Take a look at Colombia. The peace agreement between the government and the FARC militia has just been rejected by a majority of the Colombian people in a referendum. Take a look at South Sudan. Civil war was reignited eight years after the signing of a peace agreement. Take a look at the Balkans where, even though bloodshed has stopped, tensions still run high and defiance still prevails among ethnic groups.
These examples show that no peace deal will be concluded – let alone last – without strong public support. And no political leader will ever listen to friendly diplomatic messages if he sees no popular backing for tough decisions. This is precisely where your action, as peace-wagers in the battlefield of public opinion, is so crucial. Your March of Hope is putting the issue of peace back at the forefront of the public debate. It acts as a wake-up call. But it goes beyond : the fact that Women Wage Peace is not affiliated with any political party and that the women here represent the diversity of Israeli society greatly contributes to making peace more consensual and to overcoming traditional social and political divisions. You are taking the issue of “peace” out of the political margins and truly giving it the space it deserves at the front of the stage. And for this you deserve much praise.
If you allow me a few more words, I would also like to address the importance of this march being not one more pro-peace event, but one conceived and led by women. I believe this is neither anecdotal nor incidental. I’m not merely saying this because I am the first female French ambassador appointed to Israel, but also because my country firmly believes that women have a key role to play in peace and security issues.
In the year 2000, the United Nations Security Council adopted a landmark resolution on this very issue. It was not only about the fact that in many conflicts – maybe not so much here, but I’ve witnessed it while working on African issues – women and girls are disproportionately affected by specific forms of violence, including sexual violence. It was also about the dire need to better take into account gender-specific issues in all aspects of peacekeeping and conflict resolution. It was also about increasing female representation at all decision-making levels for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. Much remains to be done in the implementation of this decision, but France and others are pushing in this direction.
This is also why it is important for me to be here : my country does not only promote peace and global security, but it also promotes the active involvement of women in these issues, and it is exactly what this March of Hope is about.
As I just said, I worked until recently as an advisor to President Hollande on African issues. Therefore, it is an honor for me to share this stage with Ms. Leymah Gbowee, whose personal example is truly inspiring. The movement she bravely led, and which gathered thousands of Liberian women, made a twofold impact on the history a country : it was instrumental in promoting peace – and she rightly received the Nobel Prize for it – and it greatly empowered her countrywomen, paving the way for the election of Ms. Ellen John Sirleaf as President of Liberia in 2005. If I can end my words with a wish, it would be for her example to inspire thousands more Israeli and Palestinian women in having a similar impact and in steering the course of history for the better.
Thank you. »
Crédit photo : Gil GETZ