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Security Council/Middle East

Published on April 25, 2012
Statement by France’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations

New York, April 23, 2012

MIDDLE EAST

Madam President,

I thank Mr Lynn Pascoe for his explanation of the situation in the Middle East, and the Permanent Representative of the State of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine for their speeches. France associates herself with the speech that will be delivered by the head of the EU delegation.

Regarding the peace process, the facts are grim: every day, the deadlock in the peace process is endangering the two-state solution, even though the latter was endorsed by the international community as a result of the acceleration in Israeli settlement activity, which threatens the viability of a Palestinian state. Settlement activity, which is morally and politically unacceptable and based on despoliation and violence, is a gross violation of international law. In this context, we condemned the provocations constituted by the new invitations to tender issued by the Israeli authorities for the construction of more than 1,100 homes. Furthermore, the settlers responsible for unacceptable violence against Palestinians must be held accountable in court for their actions; all too often this fails to happen. It is therefore lamentable that this Council is not able to condemn these actions, to simply state the law and reaffirm the principles that underpin the two-state solution, when this is threatened, which is currently the case as an increasing number of Palestinians and Israelis fear.

Doing nothing also means risking an explosion in violence, in a regional context that is continuing to stir up tensions. In the last three months, Israel has been targeted by a large number of rocket attacks. We unreservedly condemn these. In Gaza, a radical change of policy by Israel is needed in order to lift the blockade, in accordance with UNSCR 1860 and without compromising Israel’s security interests, and thus put an end to Hamas’s control over the fate of the people of Gaza.

France certainly believes that the meeting between a Palestinian delegation and the Israeli Prime Minister is a step in the right direction. We hope that this exchange will lead to a resumption of the dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. The goal remains to resume effective negotiations based on clear and balanced parameters.

It is however essential to carry out an in-depth analysis of the method of lending international support to the peace process, which is currently not satisfactory. Only a follow-up mechanism expanded to include all players concerned, particularly regional players, based on agreed parameters and a realistic timetable, and to which the parties would be held accountable for their actions, will allow the parties to resume the path of credible negotiations. Recognizing this does not relieve the parties of their responsibilities; it means learning from their inability to put themselves on the path of painful compromise – a path that will be painful for both parties; it means promoting the only realistic path towards a solution, which is in the process of disappearing.

Substantial confidence-building measures must be proposed in order to help re-establish the trust necessary between the parties. The Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, who are the key players in the peace process, must be supported.

The most recent meeting of the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee confirmed that the Palestinians are ready to establish their state and to run it in a credible manner, but also emphasized the unsustainable financial situation of the Palestinian Authority, which could no longer be able to pay the salaries of its civil servants if the donors don’t make renewed efforts. Israel must also implement the technical agreement of summer 2011 in order to improve the collection of duties and taxes levied on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, which constitutes the best way to increase Palestinian revenue. Israel must lift the restrictions imposed on the development of the Palestinian economy – particularly in Zone C and in Gaza –, which contribute to keeping the Palestinian economy in a situation of dependency.

It’s crucial to support President Abbas in his efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation because there can be no lasting solution as long as the Palestinian territories remain divided. We’re ready to work with any Palestinian government that would commit to non-violence and to a two-state solution and would accept the PLO’s past agreements and obligations, including Israel’s right to exist.

SYRIA

Madam President, allow me now to bring up the situation in Syria.
The situation on the ground continues to elicit the gravest concern. As spelled out in the Secretary-General’s letter delivered to the Security Council on Thursday, Damascus has once again failed to abide by its commitments. The areas of Homs and Idlib, which have been under bombardment and attack since last week, are still paying a heavy price in the ongoing crackdown. The Syrian authorities have not carried out the immediate implementation measures that they pledged to the Joint Special Envoy: the Syrian army has made only sham withdrawals; heavy weapons fire and bombing is still going on.

By adopting UNSCRs 2042 and 2043, the Security Council had demanded that Damascus immediately and verifiably implement these measures to end the violence. Damascus cannot defy a decision by the international community any longer.

This Council has assumed its responsibilities by agreeing to the Secretary-General’s request to deploy a 300-man observer mission to oversee an end to the violence in all its forms and by all parties, as well as the full implementation of the Joint Special Envoy’s six-point plan. This deployment is not risk-free. No restrictions on the observers’ work or threats to their security will be tolerated by this Council, which will have to examine enforcement measures, if necessary.

Madam President,

The Council’s ability to help resolve crises is also essential to the credibility of its efforts to maintain stability at the regional level. This Council can therefore not accept Syria’s violations of the sovereignty of her neighbours, whether they be Turkey or Lebanon. France appreciates the welcome extended by those states to Syrian citizens seeking refuge far from the violence, in accordance with international law on refugees and displaced persons.

In this fragile regional context, we applaud the Lebanese authorities’ commitment to working with all components of society to preserve Lebanon’s stability. We applaud their commitment to respect all their international obligations, including with regard to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Madam President,

The Council must stand ready to react firmly if the demands set forth in UNSCRs 2042 and 2043 are not met by the Damascus authorities.

Yet the urgent need to act in Syria must not cause the international community to forget the need to preserve the two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace. The Middle East will achieve long-term stability only if the international community succeeds in responding to the legitimate aspirations for nationhood that are being expressed in Palestine and those in Israel for her security. At stake is the credibility of this Council in helping create a credible negotiating framework for this purpose.

Thank you./.

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