"It is our collective responsibility not to give up" [fr]
Public debate on the situation in the Middel East- Statement by M. François Delattre, Permanent representative of France to the United Nations -Security Council - 18 April 2016
At the outset, I would like to thank the Secretary-General for his briefing and for his commitment.
The Oslo Accords, signed in 1994, at a time of great hope, made the establishment of a Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel the key to the resolution of that historic conflict. Nevertheless, let us be frank. More than 20 years after those agreements, the creation of a Palestinian State has never been as remote. The daily progression of Israeli settlement activity, which parcels up Palestinian territory so as to reduce it to a small portion, calls into question the viability of a future State.
Violence structures relations between Israelis and Palestinians, whether in acts of terrorism, individual attacks or simply the weight of occupation. The wave of violence with increasing intensity that has persisted for six months has led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of wounded. The rift between the Palestinian and Israeli peoples is unprecedented. It fuels the radicalization of public opinion; people seem to no longer believe in the possibility of the peaceful coexistence of two States. That is one of the most worrisome aspects. We must make no mistake against that backdrop. The status quo is an illusion; the status quo is mechanically a regression, that daily takes us farther and farther away from the possibility of one day seeing a two-State solution emerge. We must look squarely at the harsh reality on the ground. If nothing is done, the tenuous prospects for a two-State solution will disappear and the risk of generalized violence will once again be reinforced.
Given that undeniable observation, France’s message for several months now can be summarized in a single sentence: there is crucial need to create a credible political horizon to save the two-State solution, as that solution is the only one that responds to the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians for a State and Israel for security.
As demonstrated by the ongoing implacable nature of the conflict, we know there can be no easy solutions. However, the choice of not dealing with the matter, or searching for ways to act to manage or contain the conflict, is not that of my country. France believes that we must all undertake our responsibility to act and, when the time is right, to do so through the Security Council. Given the scope of the challenge, we think that collective mobilization of the international community is today the only way to move forward. Under the leadership of President of the Republic and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, France has decided to launch an initiative to provide a credible political horizon for the peace process. It is a cooperative, inclusive and progressive approach.
First, it is cooperative. To that end, the Special Envoy of France, Ambassador Pierre Vimont, conducted broad, in-depth consultations with the parties and the international and regional stakeholders to formulate proposals. The approach, then, was inclusive, as I noted. The initiative is complementary to the actions
conducted by the Quartet, the United Nations and the United States. Given the difficult task before us, we will indeed need the commitment of all stakeholders if we hope to succeed. Finally, the initiative is progressive. Given the rift between the parties, it would be illusory to think there would be an immediate resumption of negotiations. Our goal is therefore based on the priority of halting the negative spiral and taking the necessary decisions so as to safeguard the two-State solution, to recreate on that basis a positive political dynamic.
As was announced by the President of the Republic in Cairo, France itself proposes to organize in Paris in early June a ministerial meeting, notably by gathering the members of the Quartet, the permanent members of the Security Council and the Arab League, as well as other regional and European stakeholders. The meeting would have three objectives.
First, as I mentioned, it would be to reaffirm the support of the international community to the two-State solution and the major principles of conflict resolution. We will be guided by the Quartet’s report, which will provide one of the foundations of our actions.
Secondly, an objective would be to focus on garnering specific commitments by the international community. To implement those ends, we will establish working groups so as to produce a comprehensive package of incentives that could decidedly engender a special European partnership, the reaffirmation of the Arab Peace Initiative, as well as economic and security guarantees.
Thirdly, the objective would be to define a timetable with specific goals as well as the methodology for an international conference, which we would like to convene in the fall. The objective of the conference would be to provide a foundation for relaunching the process of credible negotiations within an internationally agreed upon framework.
Since resolution 181 (II), adopted by the General Assembly in 1947, the two-State solution has been the shared guideline for the Organization. France is aware of the difficulty of the challenge; it is a conflict where so much goodwill has failed. We, however, believe that is our collective responsibility not to give up. We must never give up. Our ambition is not claiming that we alone are able succeed where others have failed. No, France’s idea is to be a link and to make available our experience and relationships with the parties in the region so as to energize the emergence of a consensual approach. That method is demanding, but at the same time we believe it is the best way to make solid progress and to create the conditions conducive to forging credible negotiations.
With regard to the situation in Syria, France welcomed the resumption of intra-Syrian talks in Geneva on 13 April under the aegis of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General. Mr. Staffan de Mistura enjoys our full support in his ongoing mediation efforts. We also welcome the constructive approach of the opposition, which is engaged in the Geneva negotiations despite provocations from the regime.
We welcome the stated objective of the resumption of talks concerning the decisive question, among others, of the political transition and negotiations with the regime. The high negotiating committee should lead to the terms of a compromise for the implementation of the Geneva communiqué (S/2013/522, annex), in particular a transition authority within the next six months, paving the way for the drafting of a new Constitution by the Syrian people and the holding of elections in free and fair conditions within 18 months. Half measures or unilateral arrangements, which the regime might announce, following fake elections would have no value, as they would not be the outcome of an agreement with the opposition, pursuant to resolution 2254 (2015).
We deplore the worsening situation in the Syrian territory in recent weeks with the observed increase in attacks by the regime. Those practices demonstrate that the regime continues those atrocities and violates the cessation of hostilities, thereby seeking to undermine the efforts of the international community for a political solution. Without a political solution, we know there can be no sustainable peace in Syria.
Finally, hand in hand with the cessation of hostilities, France believes that the full, safe and unhindered access, without any preconditions, to humanitarian assistance to those in the population impacted is a top priority. The Syrian regime and Da’esh bear significant responsibility in the matter. Again, strengthened and effective pressure should be exerted on the regime. Those actions of the Syrian regime that undermine the Geneva negotiations must cease.
Allow me say a few words about Yemen, to express our hope that the delegations will soon meet around the negotiations table for the resumption of talks scheduled to resume today, Monday, 18 April. The resumption of negotiations could give rise to genuine hope. We hope that the Security Council can rapidly send a clear message to the parties to support this new dynamic and to provide full support to the work of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General. The hope for the future of Yemen needs especially to be encouraged and supported, given the fact that the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. Furthermore, the terrorist threat in Yemen is increasing every day. The Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula group and Da’esh are taking advantage of the instability to spread their influence across the country. A good-faith commitment on the part of the parties to the conflict to a political settlement in Yemen and a clear commitment by the Security Council are therefore all the more urgent.