Gaza: the threshold for violence has been crossed [fr]
Emergency meeting on Gaza - Statement by Mr Antoine Michon, Political Coordinator of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 30 March 2018
At the outset, I would like to thank Kuwait for requesting the holding of today’s emergency meeting and the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs for his briefing. Given his worrisome description of the situation, I would like to make three comments.
1. First, we are very concerned about today’s developments, which have exacerbated an already tense situation in the Gaza Strip. The response of the Israeli security forces to last-minute protests has left a number of dead and hundreds with bullet wounds. The threshold for violence has been crossed.
2. As we wait for light to be shed on the incident, I should like to remind the Council about two very important issues: first, respect for international humanitarian law, in particular the importance of protecting civilians, and, secondly, respect for the right of Palestinians to hold peaceful demonstrations. Measures taken by Israel to protect itself — a concern we all share — must take those issues into account. We call on Israel to demonstrate discretion, restraint and proportional use of force. We urge protesters to refrain from violence.
3. There is a very real risk of an escalation of violence, which we mentioned at Wednesday’s open debate (see S/PV.8218). Another conflict could erupt in Gaza. There are calls for frequent protests to be held until 15 May. Conditions are therefore conducive to an upsurge in violence. There is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which will only deteriorate due to the financial difficulties of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The intra-Palestinian reconciliation process has been at a standstill since the assassination attempt against the Palestinian Prime Minister on 13 February, which we firmly condemn. At the same time, the security situation has deteriorated with the use of improvised explosive devices, which have targeted Israeli soldiers along the Israel-Gaza security barrier in recent weeks, and offensive tunnels to prepare for attacks launched from the Gaza Strip. We condemn all such actions.
All indicators are still red, and, in the absence of a political perspective that offers hope to the populations, the situation is very worrying. In that context, it is important that we support the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza so that it can fully exercise its prerogatives in the Gaza Strip, including in the area of security. That process must also be accompanied by a lifting of the blockade, along with credible security guarantees for Israel.
3. Finally, we must not dissociate the situation in Gaza from the Palestinian question as a whole. Palestinian unity is an essential element of a just and lasting peace based on the perspective of the two States. It is essential that we call for an early resumption of serious negotiations with a view to implementing the two-State solution.
In conclusion, we believe it is essential for the Council to remain actively seized of the matter and, as requested by Kuwait, to express its support for protecting civilians and avoiding any disproportionate response.