In Gaza, we must do everything in our power to prevent a new escalation [fr]
Statement by Ms. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, Chargée d’Affaires a.i.
Security Council - 27 August 2019
I too would like to thank the Special Coordinator, Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, for his enlightening briefing, which provided us with a clear and precise outline of the situation and the issues at hand.
1/ First of all, I would like to draw our collective attention to the further deterioration of the situation in Gaza and the need to address it.
The recent increase in tensions we are witnessing today must compel us to closely follow developments in Gaza in the coming weeks. We must do everything we can to avoid any new escalation of the conflict, as we have been observing since early May. In that context, we call on the parties concerned to exercise full restraint. Further civilian casualties must be avoided at all costs.
I would also reiterate France’s strong condemnation of shooting from Gaza towards inhabited areas in Israel.
These tensions are a reflection of the broader crisis throughout Gaza, which is simultaneously humanitarian, economic and political in nature. As we know, lasting stability will be possible in Gaza only in the context of a negotiated settlement. That requires the full return of the Palestinian Authority, on the one hand, and the lifting of the blockade, on the other hand, accompanied by credible security guarantees for Israel.
2/ Secondly, I would like to refer to the dangers that today weigh heavily on the two-State solution and risk irreversible damage to it.
The ongoing settlement policy in East Jerusalem and the West Bank continues to take us further away from a two-State solution. France condemned the recent decisions taken by the Israeli authorities on 5 and 6 August to allow the construction of 2,500 housing units in the West Bank, in addition to the 4,500 new housing units that have been approved since the beginning of the year. These decisions are all the more disturbing given that this policy has been accompanied by worrisome statements regarding the annexation of all or part of the occupied territories.
The demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are also continuing unabated. France, along with its European partners, has condemned the demolition of several buildings by the Israeli army in the area of Wadi Al-Hummus, East Jerusalem. Those demolitions in zones A and B are unprecedented, illegal under international law and serve to further undermine the Oslo Accords.
As reaffirmed in resolution 2334 (2016), settlement is illegal under international law. This policy aggravates tensions on the ground and undermines the conditions for a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians and must be brought to an end.
Finally, France followed with concern the clashes on the Esplanade of the Mosques that took place on 11 August in the context of Muslim and Jewish holidays. We call on all parties to refrain from any act or statement that could exacerbate tensions and to demonstrate a sense of responsibility with a view to mitigating the situation. France recalls its commitment to preserving the status quo of 1967 at the holy sites of Jerusalem. To call the status quo into question would be fraught with the risk of regional destabilization.
3/ As the backdrop continues to worsen, France calls for safeguarding the two-State solution.
A solution to the conflict must be, as we know, fundamentally political and based on the long-standing parameters, defined in particular by the relevant Council resolutions, and in response to the legitimate aspirations of both parties, namely, the establishment of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, within secure and recognized borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. France, in conjunction with its European partners, stands ready to support all efforts, including economic initiatives, as long as they fall within the framework that we have collectively defined.
With such a solution pending, we must urgently focus on the immediate improvement of the humanitarian situation, especially in Gaza, where basic essentials — such as medicine in particular, but also fuel — must be able to be delivered. We must also pay special attention to what Mr. Mladenov has just told us about the risk of a health crisis in Gaza.
Moreover, while the Palestinian Authority is experiencing a worrisome fiscal situation, France notes with satisfaction the agreement reached on tax exemptions on oil imports by the Palestinian Authority. This represents a first step towards a resolution of the ongoing crisis over Israeli budgetary payments to the Palestinian Authority. In that connection, France encourages both parties to continue their discussions in that direction.
Allow me to reiterate that, in the absence of a political solution for a just and lasting peace, the programmes of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East are essential to provide vital assistance to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees, thereby contributing to the stability of the entire region.
In conclusion, turning to recent developments in Lebanon, as the Permanent Representative of Kuwait mentioned, I would like to take the opportunity of this briefing to express France’s deep concern regarding the situation. In the context of current regional tensions, it is imperative that all parties avoid an escalation and comply with the relevant Council resolutions, while also refraining from any violation of the Blue Line.