Israel/Palestine : it is essential that both parties return to the negotiating table [fr]
Statement by Mr Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 11 February 2020
I thank the Secretary-General and his Special Coordinator for their briefings. I also welcome the presence of President Abbas among us today. We are all here today in the presence of the Secretary-General because we share the conviction that it is necessary to resume the negotiations process between the parties with the view to achieving a just and lasting peace that meets the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis alike.
For France, a just and lasting peace hinges on respect for international law, compliance with all relevant Security Council resolutions. It must seek the establishment, alongside Israel, of an independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian State, within the framework of internationally agreed parameters. Those parameters are well known and have been endorsed on several occasions by the Council, most recently in resolution 2334 (2016). They are geared towards the objective of ensuring the existence of two States, within secure and internationally recognized borders, on the basis of the lines of 4 June 1967, with agreed swaps of comparable territory and with Jerusalem as the capital of the two States.
There is no ambiguity vis-à-vis what the two-State solution entails. The aim is to establish an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian State that enjoys territorial contiguity and lives in peace and security alongside Israel. That necessitates security arrangements that guarantee Israel’s security and safeguards the sovereignty of the Palestinian State. It also requires a just, equitable and agreed solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.
We will continue to advocate a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in accordance with international law and within the framework of Council resolutions. International law and the decisions of the Council are not options that Member States can choose whether or not to respect. They are binding on all of us, in full, as required by the Charter of the United Nations. Respect for international law is a prerequisite for international peace and security and constitutes a guarantee of the effectiveness of our collective action.
That is not merely a position of principle. On the contrary, it reflects the deep conviction of France and its European partners that this solution alone is realistically able to put an end to the occupation and thereby deliver a just and lasting peace. Absent such a solution, the political vacuum and the continuing deterioration of the situation on the ground will fuel the despair of new generations and threaten to radicalize the young.
France remains resolutely committed to Israel’s security. We strongly condemn all those who threaten it. President Macron reaffirmed that once again during his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories last month. In that context, there is an urgent need to revive negotiations on the basis of agreed parameters to regenerate a political horizon. The plan announced by the United States is the fruit of efforts that have been under way for several months, which we have recognized as such.
I have recalled the framework within which France, the European Union and our Arab partners believe that the peace process must be relaunched. The active involvement of the main countries of the region, as well as the Europeans, is necessary to contribute to the resumption of the political process. The Arab Peace Initiative was a milestone in the process and remains fully relevant, as recalled by the Council of Minister for Foreign Affairs of the League of Arab States in Cairo on 1 February and also just now by the Tunisian representative. The European Union, which is a member of the Quartet and has been committed to resolving the conflict from the outset, stands ready to support the resumption of negotiations, as recalled by its High Representative Josep Borrell Fontelles.
It is essential that both parties return to the negotiating table in good faith. Neither side should be marginalized. A solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires negotiation, not unilateral decisions. President Abbas’ proposal to establish a multilateral mechanism to resume peace negotiations on the basis of previous resolutions and agreed parameters deserves close consideration in that context. We stand ready to engage in a discussion on those modalities.France calls on the parties to establish conditions conducive to the resumption of discussions. That requires all parties to refrain from violence and incitement to violence, and an end to settlement activity and any unilateral measure contrary to international law, which would only increase tensions. In that regard, we caution against any decision to annex part of the West Bank.
I wish to conclude this statement by reiterating France’s readiness to work, alongside all its partners and without further delay, to relaunch the peace process with the objective of arriving at a just and lasting peace and the stabilization of the Middle East. The role of the Council and the United Nations is to encourage and support the resumption of negotiations on the basis of international law. The Secretary-General and his Special Coordinator have our full support in that regard.