26 July 2011 - Security Council - The situation in the Middle East - Statement by Mr Gerard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I would like to thank Special Coordinator Mr. Robert Serry, for his presentation. I would also like to thank the Permanent Representative of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine for their statements. France supports the statement that will be delivered by the EU Head of Delegation.
Since the beginning of the year, the Arab world has been at the heart of historic changes, from which the region will emerge transformed. These changes signal the aspirations of Arab societies for freedom. France welcomed this incredible movement and again reaffirms its support for all the efforts undertaken to ensure peaceful and negotiated transitions.
We consider this regional momentum to be a unique opportunity to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. France’s position in this regard is clear, and is based on several convictions: the status quo is intolerable; only dialogue will enable us to reach the only legitimate solution: two States for two peoples; the resumption of the peace process must be based on balanced parameters agreed upon by the two parties. We set out these parameters here on February 18. Let me reiterate them:
— An agreement on the borders of the two States, based on the 4 June 1967 lines, with equivalent land swaps may be agreed between the parties.
— Security arrangements that, for Palestinians, respect the sovereignty of the Palestinian State and show that the occupation is over; and, for Israelis, protect their security, prevent the resurgence of terrorism and deal with new and emerging threats.
— A just, fair and agreed solution to the refugee question.
— Fulfillment of the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem. A way must be found through negotiations to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both States.
It is with this in mind that France proposed an initiative aimed at relaunching negotiations on the basis of these clear and balanced parameters which reflect a broad international consensus and which must fulfill the main expectations of the two parties. We regret the fact that the Middle East Quartet did not endorse these parameters and did not launch an appeal for the resumption of the peace process at its meeting on July 11. Despite this failure, we urge the parties to refrain from any action that could be harmful to the resumption of bilateral negotiations and not to resign themselves to the dangerous impasse in which we find ourselves today.
We welcome the progress made by the Palestinian Authority with respect to building the institutions of the future Palestinian State and urge all donors to continue their budgetary aid efforts.
The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip remains troubling. We again urge the Israeli authorities to undertake a change of policy with respect to Gaza, without compromising its legitimate security concerns.
Our position on settlement activity remains unchanged: illegal under international law and constituting an obstacle to peace based on the dispossession of the Palestinian population, it undermines trust between the parties and constitutes a threat to the two-State solution. We condemn the continued settlement activities, in the West Bank as well as in East Jerusalem, and urge Israel to abandon its construction plans.
Lastly, we cannot ignore the regional context of the peace process. In Lebanon, the events that took place on the border raised concerns among the international community. We condemn the attack against UNIFIL which occurred on 27 May and the one a few hours ago against the French contingent. In this context, France urges all parties to honor their obligations established by UNSCR 1701. The formation of the Lebanese government by Prime Minister Najib Mikati constitutes a milestone for Lebanon and the Lebanese people. This government must continue to implement Lebanon’s international obligations and commitments, notably with respect to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and its funding, in accordance with UNSCR 1757 and the commitments made by the Lebanese Prime Minister.
We are concerned by the bloody events that took place on May 15 and June 5 in the Golan Heights on the Syrian-Lebanese border. France again underlines the acute need for the Syrian authorities to enforce respect for the area of separation between Israel and Syria, in accordance with UNSCR 350.
For more than four months now the Syrian regime has been conducting a systematic crackdown against peaceful demonstrations, openly ignoring the appeals of the international community. Human rights organizations in Syria have reported nearly 1,500 dead and 12,000 political arrests. Each week brings new civilian casualties. The Special Advisors of the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect reported on 21 July that crimes against humanity may have been committed and are continuing to be committed in Syria. On 11 July, the French, American and Qatari embassies in Damascus were attacked; the Syrian security services did not attempt to defend them. France strongly condemns such acts which are in grave violation of Syria’s obligations under international law. Such illegal initiatives and gross maneuvers by the Damascus authorities will not detract attention from the fundamental problem: ending the crackdown against the Syrian population and initiating a democratic transition.
The events now taking place in the Arab world, including in the Palestinian Territories, serve to underline the urgency and strength of the aspirations of Arab societies for freedom and democracy. In a few weeks, we’ll reach the date set by the Fayyad plan. The expectations of Palestinian civil society have never been so high. We must not ignore this signal and the remaining risk returning to a situation of deadlock, with the threat of a further escalation of violence. We must find an opportunity here to relaunch dialogue under the auspices of the international community. France will assume its responsibilities with respect to the parties’ proposals and with respect with the initiatives that have been launched to resume the peace process, with the constant aim of advancing the peace process.