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Palestinian state/UN – Syria/UN

Published on September 22, 2011
Interview given by Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to “Europe 1” (excerpts)

New York, September 20, 2011

Palestinian state/UN

Q. – (…) Yesterday evening in New York you had a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas, who wants a United Nations Security Council vote as early as Friday on the creation of a Palestinian state. Might he still abandon this?

THE MINISTER – President Mahmoud Abbas has publicly confirmed his intention – I’d say even his decision – to ask the United Nations’ Secretary-General to set in train the process which will ultimately go to the Security Council and will look at the request for Palestine to become a United Nations member state. Quite obviously this doesn’t mean there’ll be a vote on Friday at the Security Council. This request will go through a procedure and it may take a few days or weeks yet, so the way is still open for other initiatives, as the Palestinians totally accept. (…)

Q. – But, for example, Mr Netanyahu is rejecting the Palestinian state and refusing to stop building the settlements. He seems to agree to direct negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas.

THE MINISTER – Everyone accepts the idea that the solution is that of two states living in peace within their respective borders and each in security; there have been repeated statements on this. The United States President himself declared this very precisely last year. The problem today is about getting this process under way, and there are still difficulties ahead of us. What we’re trying to do is draw up a timetable to deal with these difficulties one by one, and a method of negotiation. We haven’t managed this yet. We aren’t giving up and it’s something which is going to be developed further this week and next, since, as I’ve said, there won’t be a Security Council vote on Friday or Saturday.

Q. – But when it does take place, it’s being said the Americans will use their veto.

THE MINISTER – The Americans are saying they’ll use their veto, they very clearly announced this. This is precisely why we considered we had to avoid getting to that point so that a confrontation doesn’t break out between the different stakeholders.

Q. – In other words, France hopes this vote at the Security Council won’t one day take place?

THE MINISTER – France hopes we can resume the negotiations. There’s also another possibility that could be envisaged next week or in the following days: namely, to refer the matter to the United Nations General Assembly, where there is no right of veto because all the UN members are on an equal footing. That’s another possibility we’re currently examining. (…)

Everything’s changing. Today Egypt is no longer the same as yesterday, Syria is in an extremely explosive situation with possible consequences for the state of Israel. Today relations between Turkey and Israel are particularly strained. For Israel, continuing to isolate herself internationally would be a significant danger, just as it would be a danger for the Palestinians to enter into a confrontation at the United Nations. This is the message we’re sending out: we must act today; we must move forwards, and even more so today than yesterday, given the changes under way in that region of the world.

Syria/UN

Q. – Yesterday you sparked a clash by condemning the unacceptable silence of the UN Security Council in the face of the crimes against humanity – your words – committed in Syria. Must we do everything to chase Bashar al-Assad from power and, as elsewhere, protect Syria’s civilians?

THE MINISTER – France, who doesn’t have a policy of double standards, has constantly demanded an end to the violence, an end to the crackdown and the start of reforms. It’s much more difficult than it was in Libya, because the Arab countries aren’t unanimous and because Russia exercises her veto on the Security Council, but we’re continuing to make progress.

The European Union has imposed sanctions which, in time, will enable us to achieve results. We’re in the process of discussing a new United Nations Security Council resolution condemning – again in the strongest terms – the behaviour of the Syrian regime. This may be frustrating, because I can see the result isn’t there and the crackdown is continuing, but we’re doing everything in our power to get things moving. (…)./.

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