The two-state solution is the only way to bring a sustainable peace to the region [fr]
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council –23 April 2020
I thank Nikolay Mladenov for his briefing. France aligns with the EU written statement which reaffirms the EU’s longstanding position on the two-state solution.
First and foremost, I want to reiterate France’s grave concern regarding the threat of annexation in light of the recent developments. France, along with its European partners, has warned repeatedly against the annexation of parts of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley and settlements. It would constitute a blatant violation of international law, which strictly prohibits the acquisition by force of occupied territories. Such steps if implemented would not pass unchallenged and shall not be overlooked in our relationship with Israel.
We have also condemned the recent announcements by the Israeli government to advance settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank, especially in the E1 area, as well as Givat Hamatos and Har Homa, which are located in particularly sensitive areas. These announcements threaten the viability of a future Palestinian state.
We call upon the Israeli government to hold the publication of tenders or any measures aimed at promoting construction in Har Homa, Givat HaMatos, and in the E1 area, as well as to not take any unilateral action that would undermine the two-State solution and the prospect of renewed peace talks. We will not recognize any changes to the June 1967 lines unless agreed to by both parties. It is a matter of principle: the respect of international law, including the resolutions of this Council is without exception.
But it is also about being pragmatic: the two-state solution is the only way to bring a sustainable peace to the region. This is in the interest of the Israelis and the Palestinians, as well as the neighboring EU.
Secondly, let me stress the importance of an increased Israeli-Palestinian coordination in the response to COVID-19 with the adequate support of the international community.
In echo to the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire, all actors must refrain from act of hostilities, maintain the ceasefire and ensure a rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all the people in need. There is no alternative to fight effectively the pandemic.
I want to echo the Special coordinator’s concerns regarding the vulnerabilities of Gaza and the lack of sufficient medical equipment to respond to COVID-19. The Israeli government should guarantee the continued delivery of medical equipment and allow humanitarian evacuations. The Palestinian authority is also responsible for the provision of medical aid and supplies to the Strip.
Moreover, France recalls that there will be no sustainable stability in Gaza without a lift of the blockade with credible security guarantees for Israel and the return of the Palestinian Authority in the framework of intra-Palestinian reconciliation.
The Israeli and Palestinian authorities must enhance their cooperation to deal with the current sanitary situation. More generally, I urge Israel to implement a full suspension of demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian and international infrastructures in the context of COVID-19, and to allow the delivery of medical equipment and humanitarian emergency evacuations, in accordance with its duties as occupying power.
There is also a need for a comprehensive lasting agreement to the clearance revenues issue to enable the Palestinian Authority to deal with the response to COVID-19.
Last but not least, the international community needs to step up its support to the Palestinian territories. The French Agency for development is mobilizing 3 million euros to support the Palestinian response to COVID-19. The EU has mobilized 71 million euros in support for Palestinian healthcare services and to alleviate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic.
In this context, I want to thank the UN, and particularly WHO and UNRWA’s humanitarian workers whose role remains crucial notably in the context of COVID-19. France remains concerned about the growing obstacles UNRWA faces on the ground in Palestine, and in East Jerusalem in particular, especially at a time when its work is all the more essential. UNRWA’s mandate is crucial to allow for a just, fair, agreed and realistic solution to be found to the refugee question.
In conclusion, I want to reiterate France’s readiness to support the resumption of negotiations based on the internationally agreed parameters. COVID-19 shows the necessity to coordinate and the mutual interests of the Israeli and Palestinian people. Like public health, peace is a public good and this Council should unite its efforts to promote peace. Thank you Madam President.