23 January 2013 – Security Council - Situation in the Middle East – Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I thank Mr. Robert Serry, Special Coordinator for the Middle
East Peace Process, as well as the Minister for Foreign
Affairs of the State of Palestine and the Permanent
Representative of Israel for their statements.

In these early weeks of 2013, the Middle East is
undermined by two crises that, after another year of
blockade and paralysis, call for resolute action on the
part of the international community.

First, with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
the Secretary-General has continuously warned us
over the course of the past year that the window of
opportunity for a two-State solution is closing. The
options now are simple. Either 2013 will be a year in
which substantive negotiations are undertaken, leading
to a final agreement settling all issues and demands, or
it will see the disappearance of this unique opportunity
to establish peace via a viable, independent, sovereign
and contiguous Palestinian State, living in peace and
security within recognized borders alongside the Israeli
State, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the two

Indeed, the reality on the ground cannot be
denied, given the latest announcements of the Israeli
Government on settlement activity, in particular in the
E-1 area, that if completed would separate Jerusalem
from the rest of the West Bank — that is, from the
State of which the eastern part of the city should be the
capital. We condemn that settlement policy, which is
illegal and a serious obstacle to peace.

In that context, the withholding by Israel of
taxes and tariffs collected on behalf the Palestinian
Authority is a counterproductive retaliation measure
that we have called upon Israel not to take after the
General Assembly’s sovereign vote. It must stop.
It exacerbates a financial crisis in the Palestinian
Authority that undermines the succesful institutional
reforms achieved. Donors must mobilize to address this
problem. The European Union will soon allocate a large
part of its annual contribution to the Palestinian budget,
and France will also endeavour to make a first payment
of its budgetary assistance as quickly as possible.

However, it is time to stop talking about the two-
State solution; we must work to realize it in 2013. We
know how many efforts have been made since the Oslo
Accords, first and foremost by the United States. We
recognize also the courage needed by the leaders in
both Israel and Palestine. But in order for their future
efforts to bear fruit, it is essential to define a framework
likely to relaunch substantive discussions on all final
status issues in an adequate climate of trust and within
a realistic timeline. With our European partners, we
have already proposed parameters for defining that
framework. We call on all key stakeholders in such a
process — the new American Administration as well as
regional partners — to make a new commitment on the
basis of those principles, with the active support of the
international community as a whole. A new approach is
needed, with the active support of the United States, the
Europeans and the Arabs. France will give unstinting
support to those efforts, including within the Security
Council and the European Union.

However, no process will materialize without the
will of the parties to restart substantive negotiations
immediately and without preconditions. That implies,
on the Palestinian side, that they make constructive use
of the status resulting from resolution 67/19, adopted
on 29 November by the General Assembly, and, on
the Israeli side, that the next Government concretely
show its peaceful intentions so that the trust shaken,
particularly by the unilateral measures, may be

To reach a final settlement, inter-Palestinian
reconciliation under the auspices of President Abbas,
in conformity with the principles of the Palestine
Liberation Organization, is necessary. We welcome
the Egyptian efforts to that end. It is important to
support partners for peace and not to offer a platform
for Hamas radicals, whose declaration with respect to
Israel we condemn, as we have always done, in French
and Hebrew, on the site of our embassy in Tel Aviv.
We are pleased that the ceasefire in Gaza is
holding, but it needs to be strengthened. That involves
combating arms trafficking and lifting the blockade
against Gaza, in order to offer other political horizons
for the residents of Gaza and ensure the security of Israel
for the long term. France and its European partners are
ready to contribute to that effort, in particular through
the reactivation and strengthening of the European
Union Border Assistance Mission in Rafah.

My second subject is Syria. The year 2013 must
also be the year of the liberation of the Syrian people,
whose situation is tragic.
Ms. Valerie Amos and
Ms. Navi Pillay described for us again on Friday the
ordeal of the Syrian population — at least 60,000 dead,
600,000 refugees, and 4 million people, mostly women
and children, in utter destitution. Despite the repeated
condemnations of the international community, the
Damascus regime continues to violate international
law by using cluster bombs, incendiary bombs and now
ballistic missiles against its own people. We recall that
any use of chemical weapons by the regime of Bashir
Al-Assad would be unacceptable and would lead to a
reaction from the international community.

In that context, the Council’s inability to take action
is scandalous. That is why with 58 other States we have
called on the Security Council to refer the situation in
Syria to the International Criminal Court. We must not
let the silence draw a veil across the war crimes and
crimes against humanity that are being perpetrated
in Syria today. We must not stop demanding that the
Syrian authorities, their agents and their accomplices
be brought to account before the Syrian people and the
international community after Syria’s liberation. That
is a precondition for reconciliation in the country.

With regard to humanitarian issues, the emergency
calls for a response that covers all affected Syrians,
including in the liberated areas. We support the efforts
of the humanitarian coordinator, Ms. Amos, as well
as those of the specialized agencies, in particular
the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for
Palestine Refugees in the Near East, to expand access
to populations in need. It is absolutely necessary
that the Syrian authorities authorize the full range
of humanitarian actors to operate in their territory,
whether or not it be under their control. Confronted
with the immense needs within Syria, as well as in
countries of the region, where more than 600,000
Syrians have sought refuge, donors must remobilize.
In that connection, we welcome the organization of the
Kuwait conference by the Secretary-General.

France will also continue to work in coordination
with the Syrian National Coalition and its assistance
coordination unit to bring aid to vulnerable populations
that do not have access to traditional assistance
channels. We support the contacts that the Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has made
with the Coalition to ensure access to zones liberated
by the opposition.

But beyond the humanitarian crisis and the human
rights issues, the way out of the Syrian crisis remains
political. We have therefore worked for a transition
in line with the aspirations of the Syrian people. We
support the efforts of the Joint Special Representative,
Mr. Brahimi, to reach a solution, and we welcome
his resolve. Unfortunately, President Al-Assad, in
his statement of 6 January — a speech he could have
delivered 18 months ago, without alterations — showed
once again that he had closed the door on a political

Nevertheless, to encourage that possibility, France
is helping the opposition to develop a structure and
actively prepare for transition. The creation of the
Syrian National Coalition, recognized by more than
a hundred States on 12 December in Marrakech,
is a major political turning point, as it shows the
international community that the Coalition represents
the credible political alternative we had hoped for,
based on principles of inclusiveness, democracy,
national unity and respect for human rights. Today, a
majority of Members of the United Nations recognize
and support it. We will continue to support this project,
which represents the aspirations of the Syrian people.
We encourage all the Members of the Organization to
do the same.

A quick transition in Syria depends on regional
security and stability. The displacement of populations
and the socioeconomic tensions resulting from the
Syrian crisis for the neighbouring countries, as well
as the intensification of violence such as the regime’s
attempts to export the crisis, are destabilizing factors.
We once again remind the Syrian regime of its obligations
with regard to respect for the territorial integrity of
neighbouring States, primarily its obligations with
regard to Lebanon and Turkey. Similarly, in the Golan,
the violation of the area of limitation must stop.
Faced with the these risks of destabilization,
France is offering its support to the countries that
are generously taking in refugees. We also recall our
solidarity with Turkey and the Council’s commitment to
the end of impunity in Lebanon respect for its integrity
and sovereignty. France continues to offer its support to
the efforts of the Lebanese authorities to preserve the
unity and stability of the country. and it encourages all
Lebanese political stakeholders to constructively take
part in the consultations led by President Sleiman to
that end.

The international community must remobilize to
find without delay a way to settle the two crises. If the
year 2013 does not see the achievement of a two-State
solution, the West Bank and Gaza will be swept up in
the regional turmoil and radicalization. All the efforts
made since Oslo would be reduced to nothing. If 2013
does not see the transition in Syria, we will have to
bear responsibility for the destabilization of the entire

Learn more on Israel/Palestine and Syria.

Dernière modification : 26/02/2015

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