Jerusalem: a crucial issue [fr]
Jerusalem - Vote explanation by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 18 December 2017
"On the issue of Jerusalem, both the preservation of the two-State solution and the realization of the aspirations of both parties are at stake, as well as respect for international law, the resolutions of the Security Council and the legitimacy of the Council itself.", François Delattre, 19 December 2017.
France regrets the outcome of the voting today. We thank Egypt for the quality of the work it has carried out and for its balanced approach.
This vote was a foregone conclusion for us for at least five reasons, which I would like to refer to today.
First of all, draft resolution S/2017/1060 confirms an international consensus on Jerusalem that has been built over decades and which is being translated into international law today. The decisions announced by the President of the United States, which we regret, do not in any way modify the common foundation on which all peace agreement must be based.
As President Macron has said, the status of Jerusalem concerns all of the international community. It has been the subject of several specific resolutions of the Security Council.
It is therefore normal for the Security Council to be seized of this issue today and to reaffirm the principles and framework it defined with regard to Jerusalem, in particular through resolutions 476 (1980) and 478 (1980). That — no more no less — is what the text on which we have just voted does.
Jerusalem’s status must be examined by the parties in the framework of a peace agreement. In the absence of an agreement, and in accordance with the consensus that has prevailed for 70 years within the international community, France does not recognize any sovereignty over Jerusalem. Also, following the June 1967 conflict, we did not recognize the annexation of East Jerusalem, which is part of the occupied territories under international law. Similarly, in 1980 we did not recognize Israel’s unilateral acts concerning Jerusalem.
Before and after Israel’s Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel, the Council adopted resolutions 476 (1980) and 478 (1980), which put forth two principles that are recalled in the draft resolution the Council has just voted on.
All decisions and actions aimed at altering the status of Jerusalem, as well as its geographical, demographic and historical character, are null and void and must be rescinded. All Member States that have established diplomatic missions at Jerusalem must withdraw them from the city. That is what happened following the adoption of resolution 478 (1980), without exception.
What was at stake then was no less than what is at stake today — not only the clear Jewish link with Jerusalem, but also the legal framework and political parameters for a settlement to the conflict.
The result of today’s voting reflects the desire of 14 members of the Council to reaffirm their collective commitment to international law, including the resolutions of the Council, on the key issue of the final status of Jerusalem. This is decisive for any prospect for peace. It emphasizes the willingness of a very large majority of Council members to not recognize any decision that runs contrary to its resolutions, as requested in the draft resolution put forward by the delegation of Egypt.
With regard to the United States, its stance clearly has a particular impact. It is incumbent upon the United States to clarify the compatibility of President Trump’s announcement on 6 December with the international consensus, without which no credible peace effort can be made.
That is because, and this is my second point, without an agreement on Jerusalem, there will be no peace agreement.
France and its partners in the European Union believe that Jerusalem is destined to become the capital of two States — Israel and Palestine — by means that must be defined through negotiations. No unilateral decision can replace that. We all know that there is no alternative to the two-State solution. A one-State solution in which two citizenship systems coexist is a fantasy that would mark the ruin of the national aspirations of the Palestinians and the democratic aspirations of the Israelis. Neither the two parties nor the international community can resign themselves to that.
To go somewhat further, and to be absolutely clear, there is no alternative to the two-State solution, or to a two-State solution without an agreement between the parties on Jerusalem, or a possible agreement on Jerusalem outside the internationally recognized parameters. We noted the willingness expressed on 6 December by the President of the United States to support the two-State solution. We hope that that will pave the way for the United States to return to the consensus framework of the international community.
Thirdly, the issue of the status of Jerusalem must take into account the concrete reality of that city, as experienced on a daily basis by its inhabitants. That is what the Security Council has done through the resolutions it has adopted over the decades on Jerusalem and it is reflected in the draft resolution that we have voted on today.
Jerusalem does not lend itself to an unambiguous narrative. More than 300,000 Palestinians live there, representing approximately 40 per cent of the city’s population. It is an Israeli city and a Palestinian city. It will become the future capital of two States, but it is already a city of two populations that coexist there.
Fourthly, the historical and religious importance of Jerusalem is key to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also to regional and international stability.
More than ever before, the need to preserve the status quo at the holy sites of Jerusalem — specifically the 1967 mosque esplanade — must be reaffirmed. But beyond that, any approach to the Jerusalem issue as a whole must avoid crystallizing tensions over the city. The risk that we must be wary of is transforming a political conflict, which is itself susceptible to a compromise, into an intractable religious conf lict. Only the radicals would be set to gain, at the expense of the moderates in the region.
As to my fifth, and final, point, we are following the situation on the ground with great concern.
Ten days of localized clashes have already left at least eight people dead and hundreds wounded in Gaza, the West Bank and several neighbourhoods in Jerusalem. The resumption of regular rocket fire from Gaza, which we strongly condemn, is also a worrying sign.
We must do everything possible to ward off the escalation of risks existing on the ground. That is why we continue to call on all parties to restrain themselves and make every effort to restore calm. Beyond that are the potentially negative repercussions throughout the region that must be avoided, following the announcement made on 6 December and its the way it has been interpreted. In particular, we call on all regional actors to contribute to easing the situation.
In the context of tensions on the ground and regional crises, it is essential to recall our collective commitment to preserving the agreed parameters on the status of Jerusalem. Today’s vote has given us that opportunity, despite its predictable outcome. On the issue of Jerusalem, both the preservation of the two-State solution and the realization of the aspirations of both parties are at stake, as well as respect for international law, the resolutions of the Security Council and the legitimacy of the Council itself.
Let me conclude by briefly underscoring three points. Given its unparalleled symbolic significance, Jerusalem is in many ways the key to peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Without an agreement on Jerusalem, there will be no peace agreement. That is why the fate of that spiritual city can be decided only by the parties, with the support of the international community, and not by a unilateral decision.
A body of international law and international consensus on the two-State solution now exists, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States and based on the outlines of a peace settlement. The Egyptian draft resolution was simply intended to recall those different elements. That is why France voted in favour of the draft resolution. As a permanent member of the Security Council and a friend to both Israel and Palestine, France will spare no effort to bring the parties back to the negotiating table and achieve an agreement in accordance with the Council’s resolutions.
There is no shortcut along this demanding path, and France will continue to hold its promise to both parties on this issue, which I once again emphasize is key to peace and stability throughout the Middle East. That is why it is essential to not give up and to pursue our efforts so that the Security Council can come together again and play its part on this crucial issue. The Council can rest assured of France’s commitment to that end.