The conflict Israel/Palestine must remain a priority - 22 October 2015 [fr]
Situation in the Middle East - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 22 october 2015
I would like to thank the Spanish presidency of the Council for the organization of this ministerial meeting on the situation in the Middle East.I also wish to thank the Deputy Secretary-General for his briefing.This meeting, following the public meeting last week and the Council’s exchange yesterday with the Secretary-General directly from Amman, as well as the numerous diplomatic efforts that all of us have made, again demonstrate how serious the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories is and the extent to which our mobilization is necessary.
We face an especially alarming escalation of violence in the Middle East, which sadly has been growing worse on the ground. France, I wish to emphasize, strongly condemned the violence of the recent weeks, whoever the perpetrators. The toll in terms of victims, wounded, suffering and frustration is especially heavy. That deadly spiral is the concrete result of an impasse in the peace process, especially from the threat posed by the continued settlement policy, which is illegal under international law, impacts on the viability of a two-State solution and fuels both despair and violence.
It constitutes an obstacle to the aspirations of both parties, namely, the creation of a Palestinian State and the right of Israel to live in security.While some have urged us to postpone the issue when faced with an international agenda replete with other crises, we have been working tirelessly in recent months to propose solutions to break the vicious cycle of violence in the Middle East. The current situation highlights the validity and need for such proposals as well as the need to stay the course. The time is not right to fold our arms. We need to assume our collective responsibility, and France, as a permanent member of the Security Council and a friend of both the Israeli and Palestinian people, intends to assume its responsibilities. In that spirit, we have insisted for a long time on the need for a collective mobilization to find a lasting political solution to the conflict.
Despite the proliferation of crises in the region, we have remained true to the conviction that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must remain an international priority. Not only are the parameters of a solution to the conflict well known, but moreover, the lack of a settlement remains a powerful recruitment argument for terrorism in the region and remains a factor in the destabilization of the region. We cannot run the risk of Daesh seizing the Palestinian issue, with all of its unimaginable consequences.It is the responsibility of the international community and the Security Council to find a response to the conflict.
As a priority, we strongly urge the parties to redouble their efforts to promote a calming of the situation by refraining from any acts or words that could stoke the violence. Maintaining the 1967 status quo for the holy sites in Jerusalem is an imperative, as underscored yesterday by the Secretary-General. France would like the Security Council to make its voice heard — its unanimous voice heard — to preserve the status quo and restore calm. Again, that is our responsibility.At the same time, we must rededicate ourselves towards allowing a political solution to emerge on the horizon. We must work together to support the resumption of a credible political process to serve a two-State solution.
That is the thrust of our initiative, alongside that of the Quartet, for renewed international support for the peace process. That drive is aimed at fully involving Arab and European partners to support a settlement of the conflict. We intend to continue on that path. The absence of any political prospect serves no one. The two-State solution can be the only response to the conflict. France remains mobilized and prepared to work to that end with its partners and to support the actions of the United Nations.Allow me to say a few words on Syria. On 17 August, the adoption of a presidential statement represented, after four years of The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question deadlock, a glimmer of hope for the emergence of a settlement of the Syrian crisis.
We thought that the Security Council was finally ready to tackle the root causes of the evils ravaging that country and to advance three main, among several, priorities, namely, to fight more effectively against terrorism and against Daesh in particular. It is Daesh we need to strike, not the moderate opposition. We need to implement a real political transition, and we need to bring a response to the horrors experienced by the Syrian civilian population.The past few weeks — this is an understatement — have not given us concrete hope and have instead given us new reasons for concern.
France and its partners have repeated untiringly that backing Mr. Bashar Al-Assad to combat the terrorists is a false solution, which will do nothing more than strengthen Daesh and prolong the tragedy. That equation will never work because it precludes Syrians from coming together against terrorism. It fuels Daesh propaganda and will ultimately increase its attractiveness. That would be not simply a moral error, but it would be a strategic error, for which the Syrian people, the entire Middle East and beyond will have to pay the price. The fate of the Syrian people cannot be limited to an alternative to terror or a dictatorship based on bloody repression or barbarous terrorism.
The root causes of the Syrian tragedy must be tackled at its source, which requires a political transition that can lead to national reconciliation. What we should seek is already included in the June 2012 Geneva communiqué: a Government enjoying full executive authority and which brings together both the elements of the regime and the elements of the opposition who reject terrorism. We know what the main parameters and objectives are as well as who the main players of such a transition are. We should not resign ourselves to the current impasse.
Rather, we should continue to back the efforts of the Special Envoy for Syria, Mr. Staffan de Mistura, to engage in discussions and negotiations with all parties and to determine the outline for an orderly solution.With more than 250,000 dead and more than 10 million displaced persons and refugees, Syria is the stage of the worst human tragedy of the early twenty-first century. Against the backgdrop of that chaotic situation, the immediate responsibility of the Council should be to effectively protect the civilian population. It is the Syrian authorities who have the responsibility to protect their population.
However, the regime, now heavily supported from the outside, is using its military resources, including air assets, to terrorize and kill civilians, in continued violation of its obligations under international law and Security Council resolutions.Entire areas in Syria are currently under indiscriminate fire, including by the use of barrel bombs.
Everyone knows the horrible nature of those actions, which strike indiscriminately and which, to quote Mr. Staffan de Mistura, bear the sinister “hallmark” of the Bashar Al-Assad regime. Barrel bombs are not defensive weapons.
They are weapons of terror, weapons that fuel the displacement of individuals and, ultimately, the flows of refugees towards neighbouring countries and towards Europe.
It is the immediate responsibility of the members of the Security Council to take steps to effectively halt the use of such ghastly weapons in Syria. France, along with Spain and the United Kingdom, will soon make concrete proposals to its partners to achieve that objective.