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13 January 2009 - Security Council - Consultations on the situation in Gaza - Stakeout by the Permanent Representative of France, H.E. Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

Le Conseil de sécurité a tenu ce matin une séance de consultations au cours de laquelle il a pu entendre le Secrétaire général des Nations unies qui a fait part de ses intentions concernant le voyage qu’il entreprend dans la région.

Le Secrétaire général a un objectif en tête: obtenir aussi vite que possible un cessez-le-feu, travailler à l’application et la mise en œuvre de la résolution 1860 qui a été adoptée par le Conseil la semaine dernière, et pour ce faire, soutenir les initiatives diplomatiques en cours et notamment, évidemment, l’initiative égyptienne, soutenue par la France. Le Secrétaire général s’entretiendra avec différents acteurs importants de la crise qui sont en mesure de peser sur la décision.

Ce qui me paraît important, c’est que le Conseil de sécurité était unanime à la fois dans son soutien à l’initiative du Secrétaire général, au rôle qu’il pouvait jouer pour précisément accélérer la mise en œuvre de la résolution 1860.

In English. The Security Council held a consultation session this morning. We heard the Secretary General of the United Nations before his departure for the Middle East. Everybody supported the role of the Secretary General for the implementation of resolution 1860. He can be of great help in helping to get a ceasefire, an immediate ceasefire, and then for the whole implementation of resolution 1860 and for the good achievement of the diplomatic initiatives which are undertaken currently, which are underway, and particularly the initiative taken by Egypt with the support of France.

Everybody supported the role that the Secretary General can play. The Security Council is united and we will be listening to the Secretary General when he will be back from the region. So we think the timing is right. Once again there are very important initiatives on the ground,. that could help if they succeed in implementing the whole resolution 1860.

-  M. l’Ambassadeur, est-ce que vous êtes vraiment optimiste quand on sait que sur le terrain les bombardements s’intensifient ?

Je crois qu’il ne s’agit pas d’être d’optimiste : il s’agit d’être déterminé.

Cette détermination, le Secrétaire général en a fait part devant le Conseil de Sécurité ce matin. Tous les Etats membres du Conseil l’ont assuré leur soutien, avec la même détermination, pour obtenir aussi vite que possible le cessez-le-feu, la mise en œuvre de la résolution 1860, notamment à travers l’achèvement positif de l’initiative égyptienne de paix, qui a l’avantage, comme vous le savez, de mettre ensemble Israéliens, Palestiniens et Egyptiens.

Il faut fournir des garanties à long terme. Cette initiative égyptienne vise à l’obtenir. Il faut donc être déterminé. Bien l’initiative est prometteuse. Pour nous elle n’a pas échoué. Bien que les combats continuent, nous continuons à soutenir cette initiative.

- Can you tell us if you had given the Secretary General at the Security Council a mandate to discuss, besides the ceasefire, mechanisms?

We didn’t enter into the details. What was important was for the Secretary General to listen to the renewed commitments of a unanimous Council, of each and every member of the Security Council, to fully support the implementation of resolution 1860. The Secretary General has a very important role to play in talking with all the parties. He is supporting the initiative by Egypt. And I’m not aware of any kind of amendment to that. The Secretary General will be in Egypt, he will be in Israel, he will be in Turkey, so he will be discussing with all those parties.

- Has the Security Council discussed with the Secretary General the mechanisms that will be taken with Egypt for monitoring the plan?

No. Everybody mentioned the fact that at one moment, when the ceasefire will be there, of course a proper mechanism for monitoring will be part of the agreement. But it’s precisely part of the ongoing discussions under the Egyptian initiative.

- Did you discuss the next step in case Israel continues to refuse to stop fire?

No, once again, it was consultations with the Secretary General on his trip to get a ceasefire. What was important is that we supported him.

- What is your reaction to the fact that Israel has not respected the Security Council resolution since it was issued? I mean, what does this tell the Arab world when it comes to respect of one country versus the other of Security Council resolutions?

First of all, the role of the Security Council is to fight for the implementation of this resolution. This is what we are doing when backing the efforts of Secretary General. This is what we are doing when backing the efforts of the Egyptians and the efforts by all the other parties concerned in getting the implementation of the resolution.

The resolution was calling for a ceasefire. We are still calling for an immediate ceasefire. All the countries, all the members of the Security Council and the Security Council are asking all parties to respect that disposition.

We need guarantees for the ceasefire, for the ceasefire to become permanent and sustainable. This is precisely the work that is done by the President of Egypt with the support of France and many other countries. This is why we have to back those efforts right now. And we are still thinking that a ceasefire is possible.

- There’s been much action to try to get peace here in New York but not much on the ground, in the region, so we seem to be left with simply the physical presence of the Secretary General in the region?

My reading is a bit different from that. There were efforts on the ground since the very first day, and you know that during the three days we spent here, those efforts, including those by the Egyptian President, were at the heart of the discussions.

So the question was: how do we pass a resolution here to help those efforts, to reinforce those efforts? The ceasefire will be on the ground. The important thing was for the Security Council to support those initiatives, and this is still what we are doing.

For the implementation of the resolution, we need the initiative by Egypt to succeed. This is a key point.

- For those who are not familiar with the UN, and the outside world, why should these parties listen to the Secretary General, what is the role here of the Secretary General? He’s already issued many appeals, he said "just stop it" yesterday several times, he’s just now being sent—what could he really legitimately do?

I thing the Secretary General can do what all diplomats are doing : putting people together, listening to ones, talking to the other ones, getting the feeling that there is trust and confidence between the actors and getting pieces together.

So he’s going first to Egypt to listen to President Mubarak, to know exactly where they stand in this negotiation they are undertaking.

It’s very important for him to be very aware of what is going on to be of help when he will meet with others. And you never know in a negotiation, you are very familiar with this, who is listening to what kind of arguments in whose mouth.

So it is very important for everybody to work together in a coherent manner. The Secretary General is bringing his own piece of work to this common goal.

-  Some clarification is needed because our understanding was that when the Secretary General took the decision to expand his trip and go to the region, that was after the ceasefire resolution. We did not assume that that was going to be 3, 4, 5, 6 days. So the mandate was to go for a mechanism. And the Secretary General was going to be exploring what the UN role could be in finding these mechanisms. Now you are just shrinking this all to a ceasefire. Why is that?

I’m not shrinking anything. I’m just presenting to you in a short way what we were talking about this morning.

First and foremost, the most important thing is to get a ceasefire on the ground. This is the major goal that the Security Council thinks the Secretary General should do when he will be on the ground. This is what he said.

But at the same time he will work to the implementation of all the pieces, which are all the elements that are in the resolution. Of course we touched on the question of long-term guarantees, we touched on the question of mechanisms, we touched on the questions of the peace process.

All of those items, elements, are on the table, but the most immediate, important thing is, as you know very well, first of all the ceasefire and then to take care of the humanitarian situation in the region. You know that the Secretary General has decided that the UN should be leading a mission on the ground as soon as possible to assess the need of the population and the need for the reconstruction.

This is very important, and in this respect I inform you that there will be a dinner organised in Paris on Thursday with Minister Kouchner, with Tony Blair, with the Norwegian Minister and of the Commission of the European Union to work on the implementation of the results of the Conference of Paris on reconstruction of Gaza in the view of holding as soon as possible, if needed, a new international conference on the reconstruction of Gaza./.

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