21 October 2014 - Security Council - Middle East - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
I would like to thank UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his speech and I would like to align myself with the statement that will be made by the EU Representative. I would like to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the situation in Iraq, in Syria and in Lebanon as well as the crisis in Libya.
The two-state solution must be saved.
This summer, Gaza was once again devastated by war. This is the third crisis in 6 years. It was more violent than in 2008/2009 and in 2012 and had tragic consequences, as we know: more than 2,100 people killed, including hundreds of children; 11,000 people injured; unprecedented destruction. The conference in Cairo provided an opportunity to express the international community’s solidarity with Palestine and its support for Gaza’s reconstruction, with the announcement of the mobilization of $5.4 billion in funding. We would like these announcements to be swiftly put into effect.
However, we cannot continue to participate indefinitely in this cycle of reconstruction and destruction, while those responsible for the destruction are not being asked to make a financial contribution to the reconstruction. We have a responsibility to put an end to this spiral of violence. This involves going far beyond the ceasefire concluded on August 26, which does not offer Gaza a lasting solution. As of today, just like in 2009 and in 2012, nothing has really been settled. The parties plan to resume their discussions very soon in Cairo. We encourage them to do so without delay. A lasting agreement must be reached in order to ensure a complete lifting of the blockade and to respond to Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
Gaza is however only the symptom of a deeper problem: the deadlock in the peace process. We have to be clear: The absence of a political perspective for the Palestinians and the serious threat to the two-state solution led to President Abbas’s initiative which was announced at the General Assembly. The acceleration of settlement activity in especially sensitive areas, including Givat Hamatos, which will create a new settlement in East Jerusalem for the first time in 15 years, makes the emergence of a Palestinian state more difficult every day on the ground. We must draw the consequences. The recent increase in tensions on the Esplanade of the Mosques is also very troubling. France reaffirms its attachment to the freedom of access to the Holy Places for all religions and emphasizes that any challenges to the status quo at this site would pose a major risk of destabilization.
The parameters of a solution to the conflict are however well known: an independent, democratic, contiguous and sovereign Palestinian state, living in peace and security alongside Israel, based on 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of the two states.
France believes in the possibility of a final solution, but we don’t have an unlimited amount of time to find a lasting solution. The time has come to implement the two-state solution before it’s too late. We must collectively give ourselves the means to achieve that. Discussions should begin on changing our approach, in order to conclude an agreement and no longer just negotiate. New negotiations will lead to nothing if they are not based on clear parameters and a timetable of work. The successive failures in the negotiations over the last 20 years remind us of this. Security Council action to establish a framework for the negotiation would be useful. The international partners must get more involved in order to support the parties in the negotiation of a comprehensive and final agreement. The role of the United States is critical and will remain key. The role of Europe and the Arab League is no less so: Both have made proposals to facilitate the conclusion of a final agreement and open up prospects for regional peace. Europe as well as its international partners must be ready to activate the levers available to each of them in order to bring the negotiations to a conclusion.
Basically, we can no longer be satisfied with trying. We have to succeed. France is now ready to contribute to this collective effort. In the absence of swift progress, in the absence of a successful conclusion, we will, at some point, have to recognize the Palestinian state.
The region is facing the emergence of a regional terrorist scourge stretching from Iraq to Lebanon through Syria.
In Iraq, the fight against Daesh calls for unprecedented mobilization on the part of the international community, alongside the Iraqi government. This response is based on three pillars:
— A long-term political strategy to support the Iraqi authorities move toward reconciliation and national unity. Daesh has thrived as a result of the fragility of Iraq, a country plagued by division and interreligious conflict. The crisis must above all be resolved through political means, in order to forge ahead with recovery and reconciliation. The recent appointment of the ministers of interior and defense as well as the swearing in of the Kurdish ministers completes the formation of an inclusive government. We must encourage this approach.
— The expansion of humanitarian assistance and reconstruction efforts.
— The coordination of the fight against Daesh with respect to military support, the draining of financial resources and the elimination of the terrorist networks. With respect to military support, France is involved in operations to provide air support to the Iraqi armed forces and the Peshmerga. We encourage all our partners to join our efforts.
In Syria, Bashar al-Assad’s regime deliberately encouraged the development of Daesh in order to block the moderates, who are therefore fighting two forms of barbarity: that of the regime and that of Daesh. Syria doesn’t have to choose between these two barbaric entities. The heinous crimes perpetrated by Daesh should not obscure the fact that the Syrian regime, which is continuing to bomb its civilian populations every day, is primarily responsible for the current tragedy in which 200,000 people have died. As such, it is fueling extremism and the rejection of its own people, and cannot under any circumstances represent the Syria of tomorrow.
The Syrian crisis calls for two responses:
— in the medium term a political response to the crisis must be developed. France will lend its full support to any initiatives by Staffan de Mistura to relaunch the negotiations and respond in a sustainable manner to the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people;
— in the short term, the capabilities of Daesh, which has its rear base in the eastern part of Syria, must be reduced. France supports the coalition’s strikes against Daesh. France is actively contributing to the fight against terrorism within the framework of a task-sharing arrangement. We are also continuing to support the Syrian National Coalition’s democratic opposition led by Hadi al-Bahra. This support is and will be political, financial and material.
In Lebanon, the situation has significantly deteriorated. Fighting between several terrorist groups, including Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra, and the Lebanese army in August in Ersal, shows the extent to which Lebanon has been directly affected by the crisis in Syria. We must do everything possible to put an end to the attacks against the army and the attempts to destabilize the country. The disassociation policy and the principles of the 2012 Baabda Declaration provide the framework under which the Lebanese forces must operate. The Security Council must mobilize its efforts to support Lebanon in order to:
— ensure the urgent election of a president. The countries that have leverage over Lebanese actors and their regional allies should make a case for the election of a president;
— in the short and medium term, strengthen and accelerate support for the Lebanese armed forces. France is working closely with Saudi Arabia in order to finalize the initiative to strengthen the Lebanese army;
— lastly, strengthen our economic and financial support in order to strengthen Lebanon’s institutions and infrastructure. With the highest ratio per capita of refugees in the world, this country should benefit from a burden-sharing arrangement.
Lastly, I would like to mention the situation in Libya which is of growing concern. This Council must remain united and mobilized in order to address Libya’s two major challenges:
— The political transition. Everyone must recognize the legitimacy of the authorities that emerged from the elections on June 25. At the same time, this does not excuse the authorities from adopting an inclusive approach. The conclusion of a ceasefire in Libya and the launch of an open and frank political dialogue aimed at reaching a lasting agreement are the first step toward the restoration of peace. This is what’s at stake in the mediation efforts led by Special Representative Bernardino Leon. All international actors must encourage the parties to take part in this dialogue in a spirit of compromise. We must be ready to use the individual sanctions provided for by resolution 2174 against those who threaten peace, stability and security in Libya or who hinder the success of its political transition;
— Libya’s second challenge is terrorism. The presence in Libya of various terrorist groups poses a significant risk to the region as well to Europe, and allows the terrorist groups in the Sahel to rebuild their forces, notably in Mali. Together with the neighboring countries, a strategy aimed at containing the terrorist threat as well as the illicit trafficking in weapons must be encouraged.