Skip to main content

Official speeches and statements - May 20, 2020

Published on May 20, 2020

1. United Nations - Middle East - Statement by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council (New York - May 20, 2020)

Mr. President,

First, I thank Nikolay Mladenov for his briefing.

Allow me to voice France’s growing concerns regarding the threat of annexation.

Like the overwhelming majority of this Council, we expressed our worries last month regarding the prospect of annexation of parts of the West Bank after the signature of the Israeli coalition agreement. Nevertheless, the inauguration of the new Israeli government brings us closer to this prospect.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Israeli authorities in a constructive and comprehensive way, in the spirit of the longstanding friendship that binds us to Israel and of our unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.

Yet, I want to echo Minister Le Drian’s statement and reiterate that any annexation of any parts of the West Bank, including of settlements only, would represent a violation of international law, which strictly prohibits the acquisition of territory by force.

It would imperil the two-state solution as it has been designed through previous negotiations and past agreements. It would also undermine the prospect for peace talks for which this Council unanimously calls for.

Annexation is neither in the interest of the Palestinians nor of the Israelis nor of the Europeans nor of the international community. The implementation of such a unilateral step will further put at risk regional stability. It would also be detrimental to Israel’s role in the world, to its integration in its regional environment as well as to Israel’s relationship with its partners.

France therefore warns again the Israeli government against such a move that would not be without consequences on the relations of the European Union with Israel. We will not recognize any changes to the June 1967 lines unless agreed to by both parties. In this regard, let me recall that resolution 2334 creates obligations for third parties, by calling upon member States to distinguish between the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967.

We remind the importance for all parties to respect existing agreements.

In this context, it is more than ever urgent to restart peace negotiations.

France firmly believes that only negotiations aimed at establishing two states living in peace and security along secure, recognized borders on the basis of 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, are likely to lead to a just and lasting peace in the region. This is also the position of the European Union. This position is based on the resolutions of this Council.

Together with the European Union, we stand ready to support any effort conducted on this basis, respecting international law and coming about through negotiations between the parties. It is a subject on which we work closely with our European partners, as well as our Arab partners.

We therefore stand ready to support any initiative aimed at relaunching credible negotiations. As we already said, we are ready to examine President Abbas’ proposals to the Council in February.

We also believe that that Palestinian unity is of paramount importance in the current situation. This can only be achieved through credible reconciliation talks. The Palestinian Authority should set a timeframe for general elections to be hold in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control. These elections could foster Palestinian reconciliation, which is also crucial for peace. This responsibility lies notably within the hands of the Palestinian Authority.

Finally, I am glad to hear that the pandemic’s spread is for now more or less under control but efforts should not be abandoned as long as the risk remains. Let me once again commend UNRWA, as well as the other UN agencies, for their exemplary role in response to the pandemic. I also welcome the new agreement reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the clearance revenue issue and call for it to pave the way towards a comprehensive agreement.

Nevertheless, more needs to be done in order to promote cooperation and dialogue between the parties beyond the fight against the pandemic.

As the already dire economic situation in Palestine is likely to worsen, France has frontloaded its annual budget support to the Palestinian Authority. Furthermore, the French Agency for development provided financial support to the Ministries of Health and Economy. France also continues to support UNRWA’s response to COVID-19. The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee’s meeting on June 2nd will give us the opportunity to renew once again our commitment to support a viable two-state solution.

Mr. President,

France along with its European partners will continue to promote multilateralism and the defense of the international ruled-based order. The Charter prohibits the acquisition of territory by force. And this Council has put in place the internationally agreed parameters on which is based the Two-State solution - and in particular, from resolution 242 to resolution 2334, the distinction between Israel and occupied Palestinian territories. Therefore, the Security Council should not remain silent on any violation of international law.

We are today at a crossroad for the Middle East peace process. It is our responsibility as Council members to unite to promote peace and not chaos. I thank you.

2. United Nations - Syria (humanitarian situation) - Statement by the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council (New York - May 19, 2020)

Mr. President,

Many thanks first to Mark Lowcock for his presentation.

The spread of COVID-19 in Syria is extremely worrying. The pandemic is becoming a multiplier of humanitarian needs in a country where more than 11 million people rely on humanitarian assistance.

An immediate and sustainable nationwide ceasefire is more than necessary.

There is no alternative to fight effectively the pandemic.

This is all the more crucial as the ceasefire in the North-West remains fragile.

The regime unfortunately has not responded to the appeal by the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy for a nationwide ceasefire. We call on all parties, and especially the regime, to work actively in that direction.

The United Nations have to remain at the forefront of these efforts, in accordance with resolution 2254.

I would like to reiterate the obligation of all parties to respect international humanitarian law.

Protection of civilians should be at the core of every party’s concerns.

All parties, in particular the Syrian regime, must ensure humanitarian access.

To prevent and respond to the spread of the pandemic, it is crucial to overcome the shortage of essential supplies and equipments. Those need to be shipped by the most direct routes to reach their intended beneficiaries, the most vulnerable.

We will never repeat it enough: the crossborder mechanism has never been so relevant, both in the North West and the North East. France remains determined to preserve that life-saving mechanism: a renewal for twelve months, as required by the Secretary-General, is essential.

In the North-West, the scale-up of the humanitarian delivery through the two crossing points must absolutely continue, the risks are immense both locally and for the region.

In the North East, gaps in medical supplies have widened as a result of the loss of al Yarubiyah crossing point. The delivery of a WHO convoy last week is a positive step but should not fool us: Damascus is not providing the UN with the sufficient and timely authorizations needed to compensate the loss of al Yarubiyah. The figures speak for themselves: only 31% of health facilities previously supported through crossborder assistance are receiving aid. As highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report, the crossline modality on its own is clearly not sufficient to meet current needs in the North East: indeed, the crossline coverage is largely similar to the one recorded in 2019. This means there has been no improvement in crossline since January 10. This is all the more worrying as the pandemic is spreading in the North-East. North-East Syria needs crossborder assistance through a dedicated crossing point.

We support all efforts to prevent and punish human rights violations.

Mass atrocity crimes won’t go unpunished.

France will continue to strongly support all efforts to collect and preserve evidence to support proceedings before competent jurisdictions.

We reaffirm the importance of sharing the full report of the Board of Inquiry with the IIIM and the Commission of Inquiry to further investigate the incidents and bring their perpetrators to justice.

Lastly, as indicated yesterday, only a political solution in line with UNSCR 2254 will bring an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Syria.

I thank you Mr. President.