24 April 2013 – Security Council - Situation in the Middle-East – Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I should like
at the outset to thank Mr. Feltman, Under-Secretary-
General for Political Affairs; the Permanent Observer
of Palestine, Mr. Riyad Mansour; and the Permanent
Representative of Israel, Mr. Ron Prosor, for their

This spring, the Middle East has been racked by
two crises that require an urgent response on the part of
the international community.

First, the urgency of the question of the Israeli-
Palestinian peace process
has been emphasized on
numerous occasions and is based on the threat that the
issue poses to the two-State solution, which is clearly
the only fair and potentially lasting way to settle that

We naturally welcome the fact that the United
States shares that sense of urgency and has responded,
and we are resolved to support their efforts to bring
about a resumption of the peace process. We hope that
that will result in the two parties returning to direct
negotiations without preconditions and on a credible
basis, with a view to reaching a lasting settlement
addressing the full range of final status issues.

a viable political environment for such negotiations
will include adopting confidence-building measures
that will make it possible to end the cycle of distrust
between the parties and prove to their peoples that a
better future is possible through negotiation.

In that regard, we are concerned about the situation
of Palestinian prisoners and the tensions that have
resulted. Beyond the humanitarian aspect, which
the Israeli authorities must be aware of and which
should compel them to take speedy and appropriate
measures, we call on them to respect the full range of
their international obligations concerning Palestinian
detainees, regardless of their status.

Palestine’s economic development must be encouraged,
a task that the former Prime Minister, Mr. Salam
Fayyad, particularly devoted himself to, and we have
commended his decisive actions aimed at building the
institutions necessary for a future Palestinian State.
We attach great importance to the continuation of such
good governance practices aimed at strengthening the
Palestinian State’s credibility, which have brought it the
recognition and trust of the international community.
It should therefore be possible to go beyond the project
stage and promote development in Zone C for the
benefit of the Palestinian people.

Moreover, ending the activities aimed at demolition
and confiscation is clearly a humanitarian imperative,
and we greatly regret the 16 demolitions that took place
in the course of a single day only yesterday, as reported
by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Activities. Furthermore, nothing can be achieved
without the parties’ willingness to work towards
advancing genuine peace. We welcome the responsible
attitude shown by the Israeli and Palestinian leaders
and by their statement supporting a two-State solution.

That statement must be backed by actions: unilateral
measures, particularly settlement activities, which
are ongoing and violate international law, undermine
prospects for peace and must therefore be stopped. As
for the Palestinian Authority, we expect to see it make
constructive use of its new status here at the United
Nations. In connection with the prospect of a two-State
solution, the issue of Palestinian unity remains a matter
of concern. We support President Abbas’s efforts and
call on regional actors to support them so that progress
towards reconciliation under his authority can be made,
and in keeping with international commitments made
by the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

Changing Israeli policy with regard to the Gaza
Strip and ending the blockade are also prerequisites for
progress in that regard. Such changes will strengthen
those who support peace on behalf of a population that
today ruled exclusively by Hamas. At the same time,
of course, we need to bear in mind Israel’s security
requirements; we continue to condemn the rockets
being fired on Israel and call for strict compliance with
the truce.

I would once again like to reiterate France’s
readiness to contribute to a lasting solution, particularly
in cooperation with our European partners. That faint
hope must be nourished by the jointly agreed support of
the international community, particularly on the part of
regional actors, who must be involved in the quest for
a solution in the context of the Arab Peace Initiative.

In Syria, it is difficult to detect any glimmer
of hope.

We heard only recently about hundreds of
civilians, women and children, who were massacred
by the regime and its militias in the Jdeidet Al-Fadel
area. Four and a half million Syrians have now been
displaced; one and a half million have sought refuge
in neighbouring countries. The human scale of the
crisis now stands at some 100,000 dead, the majority of
them civilians, as well as tens of thousands who have
disappeared. The question therefore arises as to when
the Security Council is going to take the measures
necessary to put an end to the suffering. We know
what those measures are, as we have tried to get them
adopted in this forum.

The first of them would be to refer the issue to
the International Criminal Court in order to put on
trial the war crimes and crimes against humanity
that have been perpetrated in Syria, for which the
responsibility falls first and foremost on the Bashar
Al-Assad regime. Secondly, we should exert increased
humanitarian pressure with a view to ending the
indiscriminate violence being inf licted on civilians,
such as the bombing of civilian districts by the regime
so as to enable access for all those in need by ensuring
cross-border access for humanitarian assistance and
authorize competent non-governmental organizations
to provide such assistance. The Security Council’s
message regarding those issues has, however, remained
inadequate. Such assistance is essential to containing
the f low of refugees, who are putting intolerable
pressure on neighbouring countries, particularly Jordan
and Lebanon, and thereby undermining the already
compromised stability of those countries. We can only
continue to commend their efforts to ensure that the
borders remain open. We must listen to Mr. Guterres’s
plea for the international community to mobilize and
lend its support to the host countries; similarly, donors
must also mobilize to rapidly make good on the pledges
of aid made at the Kuwait Conference.

However, what is necessary, first and foremost, is
a political transition that clearly marks a break with
the past and responds to the Syrian people’s legitimate
aspirations to choose their own destiny in a democratic
manner. In order to accomplish that, we have the Geneva
communiqué (S/2012/523, annex) and the necessary
clarifications that have been made by the Joint Special
Representative, Mr. Brahimi, in addressing the Council.
Above all, we must ensure that presidential powers are
transferred in full to a transitional Government. That is
the sequence of events that can lead to the establishment
of a transitional Government, with full executive
powers and able to organize elections, a Government
that we are prepared to work with in order to do what
has to be done.

Unfortunately, we have not yet reached that stage;
only last week President Al-Assad reiterated his
rejection of it in a statement that ignores the reality
of the Syrian crisis. The only glimmer of hope is to
be found with the opposition, which we continue to
support. As the result of a bold initiative by Mr. Moaz
Al-Khateeb, which we commended, the coalition has
recognized the principle of political transition and is
committed to it, as was stated in Istanbul. We call on
the international community to back that initiative, in
order to give support to the only force that is ready to
prepare the way for political transition. We sought a
viable interlocutor, and now we have one, recognized
by the Arab League and a majority of the international
community; one engaged in establishing a Government
that seeks to unite the various components of Syrian
society. Such an actor is indispensable to the creation
of the conditions for a political transition, and we in the
United Nations must also take that into account.
Before concluding, I would like to touch on

Lebanon, which is caught in the middle of this storm.

We welcome the efforts adopted by the Lebanese
Government, under President Sleiman, to implement the
so-called disassociation policy, the only policy that can
protect Lebanon from relapsing into civil war. While
events on the border continue to increase in number and
violations by Syria of Lebanon’s borders are growing,
we appeal to the Lebanese people to continue to uphold
the principles agreed on in the Baabda Declaration, in
the interests of their country’s stability. We welcome the
fact that agreement was rapidly reached on nominating
Mr. Tamam Salam as Prime Minister, as well as the
efforts to ensure a speedy agreement on the composition
of the new Government, and the organization of
parliamentary elections on a consensus-based approach
and within the constitutional time frame.

In conclusion, this is a region that is on the brink of
disaster as a result of the Syrian crisis, as a result of the
burden represented by the refugees, which is creating
sociopolitical problems, and the problem of radical
terrorism, which is spreading, as we feared, over the
slaughterhouse that Syria has become. We cannot
afford to ignore this region, which is strategically so
crucial to global peace and security and which will,
without our prompt action, spiral into a chaos that will
spill over beyond the Middle East. We face a choice:
either we support the resolute action of the international
community by backing the United States in ensuring
that the peace process between the Israelis and the
Palestinians can move forward and produce a lasting
settlement, or we do not. We must display similar
enthusiasm in tackling the Syrian situation in our
search for a political transition, an enthusiasm that we
have so far failed to display, thus allowing the region to
plunge ever more deeply into the abyss.

Learn more on Israel and Palestine, on Syria and on Lebanon.

Dernière modification : 26/02/2015

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