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25 July 2012 - Security Council - Middle East - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

I would like to thank Mr. Robert Serry, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, the Permanent Representative of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine for their statements.

I would also like to extend the sincere condolences of France to the victims of the terrorist attack in Bulgaria. I reiterate my country’s full solidarity to the Israeli State and people in their fight against hatred and terrorism.

The Syrian regime has systematically violated resolutions 2042 (2012) and 2043 (2012) by intensifying its use of heavy weaponry against its own people and by bombing urban centres from airplanes today, for the first time. According to non-governmental organizations, an estimated 19,000 Syrians have been killed by the regime, while 3 million have been endangered by internal displacements. By United Nations estimates, another 1 million face food insecurity. The escalation of violence has caused tens of thousands of refugees to flee to neighbouring countries. We commend the assistance given to the people fleeing Syria.

The impact of all this on regional stability is of increasing concern. In the Golan Heights, the Syrian authorities committed a serious violation of the 1974 agreement by penetrating into the separation zone. We will not allow Syria to dissimulate its excesses by fomenting regional unrest. The threatened use of chemical and biological weapons and the violations of Lebanese sovereignty and of resolutions 1559 (2004), 1680 (2006) and 1701 (2006) are equally unacceptable. That is the message sent by the Security Council last week, reiterating week its commitment to the stability, sovereignty and integrity of Lebanon, threatened by the growing number of Syrian incursions and bombardments on the Lebanese side of the border. We welcome the responsible attitude of the Lebanese authorities, politicians and people, who have demonstrated their resolve not to be dragged into a conflict that is not theirs. We encourage them to continue to invest in the national dialogue relaunched by Lebanese President Sleiman.

The impotence to which the Council has been reduced by the Russian and Chinese vetoes does not leave it without recourse. We will maintain our support for the Syrian people and a democratic transition. We have adopted a new series of sanctions against Syria in the context of the European Union. We will pursue our work to support the opposition, including on the ground, and to help them to coalesce around a political project and a transitional Government for Syria. We will also continue to build a case against the Syrian regime to establish its criminal responsibility for the crimes against humanity of which it is guilty. We will continue to respond to the appeals of peoples in danger and to pursue our resolute efforts, including within the European Union, for increased humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.

The threats to regional stability are not without consequences for the peace process in the Middle East. Our responsibility today in this difficult context is to maintain the viability and political credibility of the two-State solution. And yet, every day Israel’s pursuit of its settlement policy undermines the possibility of peace and violates international law and the resolutions of the Security Council. Expulsions continue in Area C. The violence of certain settlers too often goes unpunished. The recent report of the Levy Commission adds insult to injury by claiming legitimacy and legality for a fait accompli. We call on Israel to reject it and to put an immediate end to its gross violations of international law.

For our part, we will continue to affirm that settlement activity in all its forms is counter to international law and impedes peace. We deplore the inability of the Council and the Quartet to express themselves on this issue. Today, alongside our European partners, we are considering specific ways to respond to this policy, which has become the main threat to the two-State solution. The viability of that solution requires the viability of the partners implementing it. We therefore reaffirm our support for the weakened Palestinian Authority. The financial crisis besetting the Authority is unprecedented. We call once again on donors to remobilize support for the construction of a Palestinian State courageously and successfully launched by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad under the authority of President Abbas.

It is important in parallel to make headway on confidence-building measures that would allow dialogue to resume. We are encouraged by the pursuit of contacts between the two parties, but their discussions must lead to significant gestures on such issues as the pre-Oslo prisoners and weapons for the Palestinian police.

We support President Abbas in his pursuit of Palestinian reconciliation pursuant to the principles of the peace process endorsed by the Palestine Liberation Organization. No peace will be possible without Palestinian unity, and in that regard we deplore the fact that Hamas has interrupted the work of the Electoral Commission in Gaza. If new socio-economic and political prospects are to emerge in Gaza, Israel must change its policy and move towards a complete lifting of the blockade, pursuant to resolution 1860 (2009).

Moreover, Israel’s security must be taken into account, and we firmly condemn the rockets being launched against southern Israel from the Gaza Strip and Sinai. Such confidence-building measures are no substitute for a credible negotiating process. France has frequently reaffirmed, here and in the General Assembly, the need to identify a framework for the negotiations. Above and beyond the required leadership, negotiations cannot be credibly resumed without clear parameters, a realistic timetable, and guarantees against non-respect for the decisions of the international community. We hope that the interested parties as a whole, including within the Council, can contribute to the development of such a framework. If such reflection is not begun as soon as possible, we must fear that the two-State solution is no more than a pious wish and that peace is beyond our reach.

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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