23 April 2012 - Security Council - Middle East
Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I would like to thank Mr. Lynn Pascoe for his presentation on 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 aligns itself with the speech that will be delivered by the head of the EU delegation.
Regarding the peace process, we’ve come to a bitter conclusion: the deadlock in the peace process compromises, a little more every day, the two-State solution, even though it 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 is based on the seizure of land and violence, is a gross violation of international law. In this context, we condemned the provocations constituted by the 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 the Palestinian populations must be held accountable for their acts; all too often this fails to happen. It is therefore lamentable that this Council is not able to condemn these actions, to simply enforce the law and to reaffirm the principles that underpin the two-State solution, when it’s threatened, which is currently the case as an increasing number of Palestinians and Israelis now fear.
Doing nothing could also lead to a surge in violence, in a regional context that is continuing to stir up tensions. In the last 3 months, Israel has been targeted by numerous 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 resolution 1860 and without compromising Israel’s security interests, and thus put an end to Hamas’s control over the fate of the population of Gaza.
France certainly believes that a 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 the Israelis and the Palestinians. The goal remains the resumption of 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 actors concerned, notably regional actors, based on agreed parameters and a realistic timetable, and to which the parties would be held accountable, would allow the parties to resume the path of credible negotiations. Recognizing this does not relieve the parties of their responsibilities; it’s a matter of learning from their inability to put themselves on the path of painful compromise – a path that is painful for both parties; it’s a matter of promoting the only realistic path toward a solution that 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 have a key role to play 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 manage it in a credible manner, but also underscored the unsustainable financial situation of the Palestinian Authority, which could be in a situation in which it won’t be able to pay the salaries of its civil servants if the donors don’t renew their mobilization 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 and which constitutes the best way to increase Palestinian revenue. Israel must lift the restrictions imposed on the development of the Palestinian economy, notably 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 that would accept the PLO’s past agreements and obligations, including Israel’s right to exist.
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 to the Security Council on Thursday, Damascus has once again failed to abide by its commitments. The areas of Homs and Idlip, 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 implemented the immediate measures that they pledged they would take in their discussions with the special envoy. The Syrian army has made only cosmetic withdrawals; heavy weapons fire and bombing is still going on.
By adopting resolutions 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.
The Security 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 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 examine the enforcement options, if necessary.
The Council’s ability to help resolve crises also determines the credibility of its efforts to maintain stability at the regional level. The Security Council must therefore not accept Syrian infringements upon the sovereignty of its neighbors, whether Turkey or Lebanon. France appreciates the welcome extended by these two nations to Syrian citizens seeking refuge far from the violence, in respect of 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 of their international obligations, including the ones relating to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
The Council must stand ready to respond firmly if the demands set forth in resolutions 2042 and 2043 are not met by officials in Damascus.
Yet the urgency of acting 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 Israel’s legitimate need for security. At stake is the credibility of the Security Council in contributing to the emergence of a credible negotiating framework in this regard.