It is time for the international community to renew its efforts for the Middle East - 23 July 2015 [fr]
Middle East - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 23 July 2015
At the outset, I would like to thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs of New Zealand for coming and to congratulate New Zealand on its presidency of the Council for July. I would also like to thank Mr. Mladenov for his briefing.
In the Middle East, since last summer, and even more since the recent visit of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to the region, France has been noting with concern that a two-State solution is becoming unrealizable. Day after day the continuance of the illegal settlements threatens the possibility of a two-State solution. The political void fuels the risk of an explosion, as illustrated by the proliferation of acts of violence. The Security Council’s Arria Formula meeting on July 20 recalled that in Gaza the blockade perpetuates misery and despair, which strengthen extremism and expose the territory to a regular renewal of violence. If we want to end that negative and dangerous cycle — dangerous for the people of the region but also to international peace and security — it is urgent to reconstitue political prospects for the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian State, living in peace and security alongside the State of Israel.
How to make progress? First, by recognizing that the peace process as we have practised it for more than 20 years is insufficient. It is illusory to hope that the Israelis and the Palestinians can resume negotiations and, above all, conclude them without broad international support. France is determined to act to promote a credible resumption of the peace process. It concerns our security as well as the stability of the Middle East.
For my country, determined action to promote peace must be based on two pillars: the collective action and mobilization of the international community, on the one hand, and the definition of a framework for negotiations, on the other hand. This is something to which the Council should contribute. The international community must act collectively. That does not call into question either the historical role of the United States nor the existence of the Quartet. Rather, it has to do with involving more partners, beginning with the European Union, the League of Arab States and, especially, the permanent members of the Security Council, in order to assist the parties to make, but also to implement, the difficult compromises that will be necessary for peace. That is the essence of the proposal to create an international support group, which has received backing from most of our partners.
Nearly 50 years after the adoption of resolution 242 (1967), it is essential to put the Council back at the heart of the conflict resolution — not to impose a solution on the parties, but to establish the framework for negotiations. When the time comes, it will be the Council’s responsibility to adopt a consensual and balanced draft resolution that will set the parameters of the final status and define a timetable for negotiations. We are currently working to assemble the conditions for such an initiative, which will be meaningless if we do not receive the guarantees that it will be both widely supported and implemented. Without a political perspective, there is a risk that the parties will strengthen their unilateral strategies, which would be in nobody’s interest. It is therefore time for the international community to renew its efforts for peace.
In Syria, four years after the start of the uprising, the human toll of the conflict is terrible, with more than 220,000 people killed, more than half of the population refugees or displaced persons, 12.2 million people in need of emergency humanitarian assistance, including 5.6 million children, and 440,000 persons besieged. Indiscriminate attacks by the Syrian regime through the daily use of barrel bombs are the main cause of civilian casualties. Following the Arria Formula meeting organized by France and Spain on the issue of barrel bombs, it is essential that the Security Council remains mobilized to put an end to the utilization of that inhumane weapon. As Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura often reminds us, there is no possible solution to the conflict as along as Bashar Al-Assad remains in power. There is no future with an ultra-minority clan that drowns the country in blood and continues to play a disturbing and dangerous game with Daesh.
To arrive at a solution, France for a number of months has been advocating a relaunch of the political process in Syria. On 29 July Mr. De Mistura will present to the Council the findings of consultations carried out over the past two months. We hope that those consultations will enable concrete proposals to operationalize the Geneva communiqué (S/2012/522, annex)with a view to a genuine political transition.
Finally, the situation in Lebanon is a source of concern on all fronts. The country is threatened by the Syrian crisis. It is infiltrated by terrorist groups, there is a massive presence of refugees, and Hizbullah is involved in Syria. It is also threatened by tensions between Hizbullah and Israel that could potentially lead to an escalation, with the risk of a new war in the Middle East that it cannot afford. It is also threatened by the presidential vacancy, which is all the more harmful since the country faces huge domestic challenges.
In that context, it is important for the international community to strengthen its support of Lebanon by helping it to take on the humanitarian challenge posed by the presence of Syrian refugees, by supporting the Lebanese armed forces, by maintaining the capacity of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon to prevent tensions in the south of Lebanon, by renewing the Force’s mandate in August and, lastly, by urging Members of Parliament to rapidly elect a President, as the Council called for under France’s presidency in March.
As a way to contribute in all of those areas, France believes that it would be useful to convene a meeting of the international support group at the ministerial level in New York, during the upcoming meeting of the General Assembly in September. The international community must not, and cannot, lose interest in Lebanon at a time when the challenges are greater than ever.