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18 October 2010 - Security Council - the situation in the Middle East - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(Unofficial translation)

I thank the Assistant-Secretary-general for Political Affairs, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco, for his report. I also thank the Permanent Representative of Israel and the Permanent Observer for Palestine for their speeches. France supports the speech that the Head of the European Union Delegation will deliver.

I would like to make 4 points:

Firstly, we should not allow the door to close again on the opportunity that was opened up on 2 September in Washington by the resumption of the direct negotiations with a view towards the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian State, living in peace alongside Israel in secure and recognized borders. The resumption of these negotiations was a courageous decision by the Palestinian and Israeli leaders, supported by the efforts of the United States and the Quartet, and with the backing of Egypt and Jordan. The status quo only leads to an increase in instability and violence in the Middle East.

The direct negotiations are now coming up against the issue of settlement activity. We have continuously repeated that settlement activity is illegal, it is compromising the two-State solution a little more every day. In this respect, it is at odds with the security of Israel. Settlement activity must stop, including in East Jerusalem. In this respect; the colonization process driven in the Palestinian neighborhoods with the support of the Israeli authorities justifies the concerns of the Council. Not only is it illegal, but it adds up specific dangers of violent incidents in the Holy city with all the political implications that we can imagine. That is why France, the European Union, the Quartet, the United States, and the entire international community are continuing to urge for the extension of the moratorium.

Nevertheless, we must end the deadlock and not lose sight of the key objective to engage in substantial discussions on all of the final status issues. We are delighted that the Arab Peace Initiative Follow-up Committee left the door open for the process to continue, but we urgently need to make progress.

The international community must commit to supporting the negotiations. France pays tribute to the American efforts that have made it possible to relaunch this process as well as the personal commitment of President Obama and the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. But in order to tackle the issue of peace, a process that has so often been resumed in the region, and in order to finally achieve peace, increased support for this process is vital, since it would establish the trust that is so essential between the parties, since it would make it possible to share the political risks associated with choosing peace.

President Sarkozy reaffirmed, when he received President Abbas, that France was ready to mobilize its efforts in this direction, with the Quartet, which plays a vital role, and the European Union which, as a result of its relations and involvement in the region, must also play a role. The States of the region have a decisive role to play, by signaling that they are prepared, when the time comes, to translate the Arab Peace Initiative into actions with respect to Israel. With this in mind, we are working to establish the conditions that would allow a resumption of the Syrian-Israeli talks, in close collaboration with the United States and Turkey.

Secondly, changes on the ground are vital in order to establish the conditions likely to ensure the success of the negotiations:

The Palestinian and Israeli populations must be able to perceive that improvements on the ground accompany the negotiation process, notably with respect to the freedom of movement and access and to security.

- Any kind of provocation must be avoided. We condemn the Israeli government’s decision to issue invitations to tender for the construction of 238 homes in East Jerusalem. There will be no peace without Jerusalem; Jerusalem is entitled to be the capital of the two States, as President Sarkozy said in his speech to the Knesset on 23 June 2008.

- At the same time, the Palestinian Authority must continue its efforts to strengthen the security sector and establish the rule of law. Continuing to fight against terrorism must remain a priority.

- Regarding Gaza, France continues to urge for the immediate opening of the crossing points in order to allow humanitarian aid to reach the civilian population and allow economy to develop. France has greeted the adoption by Israel of new measures to facilitate the entry of goods. The resumption of economic activity requires further measures, such as the increase in the capacity of the crossing points, the resumption of exports from the Gaza Strip and the relaxation of the restrictions on the movement of persons to and from the Gaza Strip. Beyond the humanitarian and settlement issues, the confinement imposed on the population is not conducive to a favorable development of the political situation.

At the same time as making these efforts, we are continuing to urge for the unconditional and immediate release of Gilad Shalit, as well as the suspension of all violence, in particular the firing of rockets towards southern Israel.

Thirdly, the support of the international community for the Palestinian Authority and for President Abbas, in order to strengthen the institutions of the future Palestinian State, must continue. The challenge is also to get Israel to support this movement with determination, particularly in the West Bank. Gestures have been made on the ground, but these are not enough, particularly with respect to the freedom of movement and access.

We reaffirm our full support for the reforms implemented by the Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad. We share the assessment of the World Bank, according to which "if it maintains its current performance, the Palestinian Authority is well-positioned for the establishment of a State at any point in the near future."

Beyond the pledges of support that have made and must be fulfilled, we signaled that we were ready, based on the continuation of the political process, to host a second donors’ conference for the Palestinian State in Paris which would allow us to provide the necessary support for the new plan that is due to be presented by the Palestinian Authority in the near future.

4. Fourthly, we are also continuing our efforts in Lebanon. We urge all parties to implement resolution 1701 and to ensure full respect for the Blue Line.

We are continuing to lend our full support to the national unity government led by Saad Hariri but we are concerned by the present tensions, in particular with respect to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

In this respect we regret the statement made by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran in which he called for the destruction of a member of the United Nations.

We also condemn the efforts implement to challenge the hamper of the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

We would like to reiterate that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was established by resolution UNSCR 1757 at the express request of the Lebanese government. This resolution applies to everyone. The establishment of the STL represented major progress in the fight against impunity. In the interests of Lebanon, and the rest of the region, the Tribunal must be allowed to continue working completely independently and in an atmosphere of calm as it does at present. No one can or should prejudge the outcome of its work, or try to exert an influence on it.

Thank you./.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU