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20 January 2014 - Security Council - Situation in the Middle East - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I would like to thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the representative of the State of Israel and the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine for their statements.

I shall touch on several points — the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the situation in Syria — before saying a few words about Lebanon.

In the Middle East, everything must be done to ensure that the efforts of the United States Secretary of State are crowned with success. France lends its full support to the efforts of the United States, particularly those of the Secretary of State, to drive forward the negotiations that are under way. The parametres for a solution are well known and have been set forth in several Security Council resolutions. The eventual acceptance by the parties of an initiative by the United States on a framework for the negotiations, broadly outlining a resolution to the conflict, could constitute significant progress towards a definitive peace agreement. Twenty years after Oslo, any interim formula must be discarded.

In order to ensure progress in the current efforts, the parties must refrain from any gesture likely to undermine the process, particularly as far as settlements are concerned. Along with its European partners, France has condemned the publication of a call for proposals by the Israeli authorities, on 10 January, to build more than 1,800 homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, following the approval given on 5 January to build new homes in the settlements of Ofra and Karnei Shomron in the West Bank. The French President called on the Israeli authorities to totally and finally halt the settlements when he visited Israel and Palestine from 17 to 19 November 2013.

In its conclusions of 16 December, the European Union presented the details of the unprecedented special privilege partnerships that would be offered to the parties in the event of a definitive agreement, which is of course the goal of the current efforts. That partnership would cover economic, political, security and social aspects, thereby allowing for stronger cooperation between the European Union an the two States, bolstering and helping with the construction of the Palestinian State and promoting trade and economic and human development in the region.

On Syria, gGiven the suffering of the people and the destruction of the country, fatalism must not prevail. We hope that this week will prove a decisive one. The second Geneva Conference on Syria will begin in Montreux on Wednesday, 22 January. France and its international partners have done everything in their power to assist the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces to prepare for that important Conference. We should welcome the decision taken this weekend in Istanbul by the Syrian opposition to participate in the Conference under the aegis of the National Coalition.

That decision was not an automatic one. The ongoing brutal repression, especially in Aleppo; the fact that civilians are caught in the fighting; the lack of humanitarian access to areas under the control of the opposition, in which Yarmouk is one of the most tragic examples; and, finally, the provocative statements about maintaining President Bashar Al-Assad in power at all costs in the midst of presidential elections, which no reasonable person would recognize as legitimate; and the outrageous reply from Mr. Mouallem to the Secretary-General’s invitation to the Conference — everything has been done by the regime to deter the opposition from participating in that exercise.

The Secretary-General’s invitation to the second Geneva Conference on Syria was unambiguous. The goal of the Conference is the full implementation of the Geneva communiqué (S/2012/523, annex), namely, the establishement of a transitional Government with full executive powers, including, of course, over the armed forces and the security services. We are in agreement in acknowledging that this document is a reference point for a political solution in Syria. The attempts by the regime to impose its interpretation on the second Geneva Conference on Syria will not fool anyone.

When it comes to Iran, it must be clear to everyone that any participation in the second Geneva Conference on Syria is conditional to the explicit acceptance of the mandate laid down in the invitation letter to the Conference from the Secretary-General, to which I have just referred. One cannot claim to support a political process out of the crisis in good faith while rejecting the goal and the parametres. In that connection, the questions raised by the Syrian National Coalition are legitimate and should be answered.

Although this is obvious, I would also remind the Council that those with blood on their hands — those who bear responsibility for the crimes committed in the course of more than two years — must not play a part in the political transition. We wish to see those matters brought before the International Criminal Court.

Against that backdrop, we must also send a message of support to Lebanon. We support the determination of the Lebanese authorities to protect themselves from the political repercussion of the Syrian crisis, in line with the Baabda Declaration of June 2012, as they combat all forms of terrorism and commit to combating impunity. The opening of the trial at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon marks a decisive stage in combating impunity for terrorist acts.

Lebanon urgently needs a Government capable of taking decisions, given a political, economic and social situation increasingly fraught with difficulties. It must also be able to count on functioning institutions that can help with the influx of almost 1 million refugees from Syria. We must continue to mobilize to support that country, particularly within the context of the International Support Group for Lebanon.


Learn more on Israel and Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.



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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