16 December 2016 - Peace Process: France will organize an international conference in January [fr]
Situation in the Middle East - Statement by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 16 December 2016
I should like to begin by thanking the Secretary-General for the particularly incisive stocktaking that he has just shared with us after 10 years of managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also for his unremitting commitment to dealing with that critical issue.
Unfortunately, we cannot contest his assessment about the inexorable marginalization of the two-State solution, which is still the only one that responds to the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace. While the climate that has paralysed the peace process for the past two years is a shared responsibility, it is undeniable that the ongoing Israeli settlements are the main challenge to implementing a two-State solution. The settlement enterprise is the product of a deliberate policy, one that is more and more obvious, and that is carving up the territory of a future Palestinian State. We can see that in various ways: the de facto annexation of Zone C and of its natural resources, transfers of populations, the obstruction of the movement of populations, the demolition of homes and humanitarian infrastructure and a plan to legalize illegal outposts. It is our responsibility to firmly and collectively condemn that policy because we are convinced that it is leading to disaster, for not just the Palestinians, but also for Israel.
Secondly, the radicalization of people, acts of violence and terrorism and incitement to violence are also ongoing threats that can cause a rapid degeneration into an uncontrollable conflagration. We have seen that on too many occasions, with three wars Gaza in September and the violence that culminated between October in 2015 and April 2016. That violence severely undermines the prospect of two States, a Palestinian State and an Israeli State, living side by side in peace and security.
Finally, progress in the Palestinian reconciliation is also indispensable.For several years now, the so-called status quo in the Middle East has really constituted a state of regression — daily regression for the people and for peace. With every day that passes, we see further threats to the two-State solution, and yet, more than ever, that should be our sole common compass. Given that assessment and will, France, under the leadership of the President of the Republic, Mr. François Hollande, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault, presented an imitative last spring aimed at finding a way out of the current impasse. Though the peace process was partially eclipsed by the serious crises elsewhere in the Middle East, our primary objective was and continues to be to place this conflict back at the heart of the political priorities of the international community.
Since the beginning and at every stage, our approach has been transparent vis-à-vis the parties, inclusive and dovetailed with existing efforts, especially those of the Quartet and our Arab partners. The ministerial meeting that was held on 3 June in Paris marked the first essential phase of international mobilization to save and make the two-State solution concrete. Following that meeting, in-depth work began with all partners wishing to contribute to developing a comprehensive incentive package, one that shows that both parties can only benefit from peace, and that the current situation has a cost — a cost to Israeli and Palestinian economic development, a cost to building a viable Palestinian State and a cost to the stability and prosperity of the region as a whole. As a result of that work, which has been going on for about a year, France will organize an international conference in January, bringing together all partner States that advocate for peace. Our goal is to present the contributions of the international community to relaunching the negotiating process and to concluding the implementation of a peace agreement.
First, in collectively reaffirming our support for a two-State solution in a context where the situation continues to deteriorate, we are determined to recall that it is the only possible solution to the conflict and to recreate a political climate that can actually reverse the negative spiral we are seeing on the ground and to recreate positive momentum. Secondly, our goal is achievable by promoting international engagement based on a coherent mechanism for concrete support and incentives towards relaunching dialogue between the two parties. We all know that only the Israelis and Palestinians can achieve peace directly. However, we must also acknowledge that the conditions today are not conducive to resuming such negotiations.
Therefore, our initiative seeks to promote a convergence of efforts in the same direction with a view to recreating an enabling environment for dialogue and negotiations, showing the parties just how much they stand to gain by bringing about peace. If we do not take resolute action in that direction, the two-State solution will continue to erode and disappear, like a mirage in the desert. There is no other valid alternative that can actually meet the legitimate aspirations of both parties. We therefore must do everything within our power, while we still have time, to prevent such a drift. I will state once again that such a drift will never lead to a just, enduring solution to the conflict and will continue to threaten balance in the region.
That is the sense of efforts of France, along with all our partners, working towards a favourable momentum based on a two-State solution. We particularly call for the support of the members of the Security Council, to shoulder together the historic responsibility that is incumbent on us to achieve peace in the Middle East.