15 October 2012 - Security Council - Situation in the Middle East - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman for his briefing on the situation in the Middle East and the Permanent Representative of Israel and the
Permanent Observer of Palestine for their statements.
I will first address the situation in Syria and its
consequences for international peace and security, and
then I will turn to the urgency of relaunching the peace
process. First, on the subject of Syria, three months ago
in this Chamber I denounced the victimization of 19,000
civilians in the Syrian crisis. Now the tragic death toll
is over 30,000. Syria is descending into civil war, with
the situation exacerbated daily by the Syrian regime’s
policy of systematically violating human rights and
f louting their humanitarian obligations. Last week,
the Syrian regime once again rejected the Secretary-
General and Joint Special Representative’s call for a
unilateral ceasefire. On the contrary, the use of heavy
weaponry by the regime has only increased since July,
along with the systematic use of air assets and increased
indiscriminate bombardment of the civilian population
in Aleppo and Homs and on the outskirts of Damascus.
France reiterates that those responsible for the most
serious crimes, in particular crimes against humanity,
must be held accountable for their actions before the
International Criminal Court.
The Syrian crisis threatens the security and stability
of the region. The Council reiterated on 5 October that
the Syrian authorities have an obligation to respect the
sovereignty and territorial integrity of neighbouring
States. We unreservedly condemn the Syrian military
firing on Turkish territory and their incursions into
and bombardments of Lebanese territory. The Council
demanded at that time that the Syrian regime put an
immediate end to its violations of international law.
Likewise, in the Golan, the violations of the areas of
limitation must come to an end.
In that context, we welcome the restraint shown
by Syria’s neighbouring countries and their generosity
in receiving their Syrian brothers. France would
like to express its solidarity with its ally Turkey. We
also welcome the responsible attitude shown by the
Lebanese Armed Forces and the entirety of the political
class, who have shown their desire to preserve stability
in Lebanon. We will not tolerate a return to political
assassinations, which would undermine the stability
there. We encourage all political actors in Lebanon to
continue to invest in the process of national dialogue
relaunched by President Sleiman.
Syria and the region must prioritize a political
transition that ref lects the aspirations of the Syrian
people, in particular their demand to be led by a leader
who does not have the blood of the people on his hands.
France supports Mr. Brahimi’s efforts to move towards
that transition and calls on the other members of the
Security Council to give the Joint Special Representative
the tools he needs to succeed despite the intransigence
France is working to encourage that process. We
support the opposition forces’ efforts to unite and
prepare for the transition. At the local level, the support
that we provide to the civilian revolutionary councils, in
particular the liberated areas, will enable those councils
to lay the foundation for local civilian governance and
to respond to the daily needs of the civilian population.
At the national level, the President of France made a
commitment before the General Assembly to recognize
a provisional Government that is representative of the
new Syria as soon as it is formed. He also recalled that
that process will require that guarantees to be made to
the various Syrian communities so that their security
can be ensured.
There is also an urgent need for an international
humanitarian response that is up to the task of meeting
the needs of those suffering in Syria and that can match the generosity of Syria’s neighbouring countries.
International donors should mobilize to extend the
funds called for by the United Nations, as winter
threatens the most vulnerable civilians. Full access to
all humanitarian actors must be agreed to by the Syrian
authorities. It is particularly intolerable that medical
infrastructure and personnel have been targeted and
that the wounded are denied access to care because they
are from combat zones.
I would now like to mention the Middle East peace
process. The tragic situation in Syria should not cause
us to forget the current impasse in the peace process. A
year after the Quartet reiterated the basis for a process
that should produce, by the end of 2012, a final agreement
and the creation of a Palestinian State, side by side with
Israel, we are further than ever from that goal. Two
months from the deadline, it is the two-State solution
itself that is threatened. Continued settlement policies
by Israel in violation of international law weaken every
day the physical viability of a future Palestinian State
that is contiguous. They also threaten the political
viability of such an entity. Each new settlement makes
it more difficult to establish the climate of trust that is
necessary for the return to dialogue. They also threaten
its economic viability, as the structural restraints on the
Palestinian economy, in particular in Area C, are the
result of the settlement policy.
In that context, the Palestinian Authority fi nds itself
threatened both financially and politically. The reforms
that have prepared the way for a functioning State in
Palestine are being undermined by an unprecedented
financial crisis. Europe alone has maintained its
financial support for the Palestinian Authority.
France has just provided €10 million in additional
budgetary support, but we cannot shoulder alone the
responsibilities of the international community. While
the recent facilitations agreed to by Israel, in particular
regarding tax collection, are welcome, they do not
ref lect the structural needs of the Palestinian Authority.
Undermining those who advocate peace, as we
find happening today, opens the door to those who
advocate violence. We condemn without reservation
the indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza into
Israel, but we also condemn the violence committed by
the settlers against the Palestinian people and the holy
sites on an ongoing basis.
It has taken this long for all of the actors to recognize
the two-State solution. The international community
cannot remain indifferent to the ongoing undermining
of that process on the ground. We must act, but how? The
solution is well known, but it must be implemented. We
must first define, based on United Nations resolutions
and previous negotiations, a framework of parameters
that allows for credible negotiations between the parties.
Europe has already made its contribution in that regard.
On that basis, the parties should be brought to make the
necessary compromises with the needed support of the
We must react, but when? We cannot wait any
longer. The situation I have outlined does not allow us
to. It also requires a clear timetable along with those
Who should react? The Quartet has failed. We must
revisit the use of the Security Council, which remains
the natural forum for bringing together the efforts of
the international community that are necessary, given
the scope of the task.
To conclude, I should like to return to the words
of President Abbas to the General Assembly. This is
perhaps our last chance, he said. Yes, it is perhaps our
last chance to implement the two-State solution. It
is perhaps also our last chance to change the bloody
trajectory on which the Syrian authorities are dragging
their people and the region. In both cases, it would be
irresponsible to not seize this last opportunity, and the
Council should contribute to those efforts.
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