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Official speeches and statements - April 23, 2020

Published on April 23, 2020

1. United Nations - Middle East - Statement by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council (New York - April 23, 2020)

Madam President,

I thank Nikolay Mladenov for his briefing. France aligns with the EU written statement which reaffirms the EU’s longstanding position on the two-state solution.

First and foremost, I want to reiterate France’s grave concern regarding the threat of annexation in light of the recent developments. France, along with its European partners, has warned repeatedly against the annexation of parts of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley and settlements. It would constitute a blatant violation of international law, which strictly prohibits the acquisition by force of occupied territories. Such steps if implemented would not pass unchallenged and shall not be overlooked in our relationship with Israel.

We have also condemned the recent announcements by the Israeli government to advance settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank, especially in the E1 area, as well as Givat Hamatos and Har Homa, which are located in particularly sensitive areas. These announcements threaten the viability of a future Palestinian state.

We call upon the Israeli government to hold the publication of tenders or any measures aimed at promoting construction in Har Homa, Givat HaMatos, and in the E1 area, as well as to not take any unilateral action that would undermine the two-State solution and the prospect of renewed peace talks. We will not recognize any changes to the June 1967 lines unless agreed to by both parties. It is a matter of principle: the respect of international law, including the resolutions of this Council is without exception.

But it is also about being pragmatic: the two-state solution is the only way to bring a sustainable peace to the region. This is in the interest of the Israelis and the Palestinians, as well as the neighboring EU.

Secondly, let me stress the importance of an increased Israeli-Palestinian coordination in the response to COVID-19 with the adequate support of the international community.

In echo to the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire, all actors must refrain from act of hostilities, maintain the ceasefire and ensure a rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all the people in need. There is no alternative to fight effectively the pandemic.

I want to echo the Special coordinator’s concerns regarding the vulnerabilities of Gaza and the lack of sufficient medical equipment to respond to COVID-19. The Israeli government should guarantee the continued delivery of medical equipment and allow humanitarian evacuations. The Palestinian authority is also responsible for the provision of medical aid and supplies to the Strip.

Moreover, France recalls that there will be no sustainable stability in Gaza without a lift of the blockade with credible security guarantees for Israel and the return of the Palestinian Authority in the framework of intra-Palestinian reconciliation.

The Israeli and Palestinian authorities must enhance their cooperation to deal with the current sanitary situation. More generally, I urge Israel to implement a full suspension of demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian and international infrastructures in the context of COVID-19, and to allow the delivery of medical equipment and humanitarian emergency evacuations, in accordance with its duties as occupying power.

There is also a need for a comprehensive lasting agreement to the clearance revenues issue to enable the Palestinian Authority to deal with the response to COVID-19.

Last but not least, the international community needs to step up its support to the Palestinian territories. The French Agency for development is mobilizing €3 million to support the Palestinian response to COVID-19. The EU has mobilized €71 million in support for Palestinian healthcare services and to alleviate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.

In this context, I want to thank the UN, and particularly WHO and UNRWA’s humanitarian workers whose role remains crucial notably in the context of COVID-19. France remains concerned about the growing obstacles UNRWA faces on the ground in Palestine, and in East Jerusalem in particular, especially at a time when its work is all the more essential. UNRWA’s mandate is crucial to allow for a just, fair, agreed and realistic solution to be found to the refugee question.

In conclusion, I want to reiterate France’s readiness to support the resumption of negotiations based on the internationally agreed parameters. COVID-19 shows the necessity to coordinate and the mutual interests of the Israeli and Palestinian people. Like public health, peace is a public good and this Council should unite its efforts to promote peace. Thank you Madam President.

2. United Nations - Climate and Security risks: the latest data - What can the UN do to prevent climate-related conflicts and how can we climate-proof UN in-country activities? - Statement by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Meeting of the Security Council in Arria formula (New York - April 22, 2020)

As the COVID19 pandemic, climate change knows no borders.

The security consequences of climate change are a challenge to our collective peace and security.

To face and address to this challenge, we need the United Nations.

The UN has both the legitimacy and the experience to guide us and make us work together.

What to do from now on? I would limit myself to three recommendations:

First, we have to anticipate. We already see how climate change impacts have heightened conflicts in the Middle East and in the Sahel region. Let’s not wait for the next region to go into conflict. Let’s make climate change impacts a key element of our conflict prevention policies.

We must act right now and put in place appropriate responses that are already present, but also to threats that are less immediate, but which could have devastating consequences in 10 or 20 years. The Artic region is a good example of such situation.

Number two, in order to do so, what we need to do, and that will be my second recommendation, is to enhance the capacities at the UN level.

The mechanism on climate and security has already contributed to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations system.

We want now the Secretary-General to present every two years to the General Assembly and the Security Council a broad report, based on solid data that would assess, for each region of the world, the risks to peace and security posed by climate change impact, and would make action-oriented recommendations to prevent those risks.

We also propose that the Secretary-General would appoint a Special Envoy in charge of climate and security in order to better coordinate the action of the UN and its agencies on this issue.

Finally, we must act now.

The impact of climate change on international security is not a problem of the future but already of today.

We need to act now, with a resolution that would give the Secretary-General a clear mandate to present this report and view to fully incorporate climate changes impacts into the United Nations conflict-prevention policy.

Dear colleagues,

Faced with these certain risks, we cannot take refuge in denial or misinformation.

France is committed to working tirelessly with all of you to bring this goal to life in the coming months.

Thank you.