The COVID-19 represents a threat for the Palestinian territories [fr]
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 30 March 2020
First, I thank Nikolay Mladenov for his briefing and the presidency for organizing the monthly meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is important that the Council continue to meet on the main hotspots.
The Special Coordinator’s briefing underlined the threat that COVID-19 represents for the Palestinian territories.
In Gaza, the health system was already on the verge of collapsing before the pandemic. There was only half of the essential medicine available for only a month. Basic equipment to respond to COVID is obviously lacking. The spread of the virus could also lead to a wider social and political destabilization, with regional consequences.
We took note of the efforts made. We urge Israel to allow the delivery of medical equipment and humanitarian emergency evacuations. The Palestinian authority should also lift restrictions that prevent the delivery of medical equipment and medicine to Gaza.
In echo to the Secretary-General’s call for humanitarian truce, all actors must refrain of act of hostilities, maintain the ceasefire and ensure humanitarian access to all the people in need. We condemn the launch of rockets against civilian areas in Israel, including those over the weekend.
Nevertheless, there will be no sustainable stability in Gaza without a lift of the blockade with credible security guarantees for Israel and the return of the Palestinian authority to the enclave thanks to Palestinian reconciliation. I urge for progress on those two fronts.
Regarding the West Bank, we are very concerned about the situation of Palestinian detainees, including in Israel, and civilians living in the Area C and East Jerusalem. Let me recall the responsibilities of Israel as an occupying power according to the Geneva Conventions. We urge the Israeli authorities to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian supplies.
More cooperation is needed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I welcome the decision of Israel to transfer 120 M shekel of fiscal revenues to the Palestinian authority; the parties nevertheless need to agree on a more comprehensive agreement.
The international community needs to step up its support to Gaza and the West Bank. I welcome the global humanitarian response plan of the UN to respond to the COVID crisis as well as the efforts of UNRWA which remain all the more essential today. And I commend the appointment of Mr Lazzarini as Commissioner-general of UNRWA.
Finally, we reiterate our condemnation of the recent announcements by the Israeli government to advance settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank. They clearly threaten the viability of a future Palestinian state.
Along with our European partners, we have called upon the Israeli government to reconsider its decisions and to put an end to all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power under the Geneva Convention and relevant Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 2334. We also call on all parties to fully meet their obligations under International Law.
We have warned against any unilateral steps, including annexation of parts of the West Bank, that would undermine the two-state solution and the prospects for peace. Such steps if implemented would not pass unchallenged.
In conclusion, let me hope that COVID 19 will also be an opportunity to foster reconciliation and peace. Unilateral steps to respond to common challenges simply do not work. I therefore hope we can collectively prepare the ground for the resumption of the peace talks in the framework of the internationally agreed parameters and the two-state solution. Thank you very much.