Middle East: "France is concerned by the multiplication of negative signals on the ground" [fr]
STATEMENT BY MR WADID BENAABOU,
DEPUTY POLITICAL COORDINATOR OF FRANCE TO THE UNITED NATIONS
TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL
(Translation from French)
New York, 30 November 2021
Thank you, Mr. President,
I would also like to thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland and Ms. Comfort Ero for their presentations.
France is concerned by the multiplication of negative signals on the ground, which run counter to the positive momentum in recent months.
The Bennett government’s first decisions on settlements in October, with the approval of plans to build several thousand housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, are very worrying. France reiterates its condemnation of settlement activity, which is illegal under international law.
We are also concerned about the possible construction of a new settlement north of Jerusalem, on the site of the former airport of Atarot / Qalandia. We call on the Israeli authorities not to start this planning process. If this project were approved and implemented by the Israeli government, it would mark, as with Givat HaMatos, the creation of a new settlement in East Jerusalem for the first time in over 25 years.
We also call on them to reverse their plans for settlement expansion, especially in sensitive areas such as E1, which jeopardize the two-state solution and directly undermine the viability of a future Palestinian state.
The increase in settler violence and the deterioration of the situation in Jerusalem also remain a source of concern. France has strongly condemned the terrorist attack perpetrated on November 21 in the Old City. We call on all actors to respect the status quo at the Holy Places. The eviction procedures of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem must be permanently suspended in favor of lasting solutions.
Finally, France reiterates its concern over the designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organizations. This Israeli decision may have consequences on the continuation of their work by restricting humanitarian space. We are in contact with the Israeli authorities and await further clarification.
Given the continued high risk of escalation, more must be done to increase cooperation between the parties and improve the lives of the people.
France calls on all parties to refrain from unilateral measures in order to make progress towards this goal.
It welcomes the goodwill shown by the parties at the ministerial meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. We call for the implementation of their commitments and the early convening of the Joint Economic Committee to consider more ambitious reforms, including on the fiscal front.
More must also be done to further consolidate the ceasefire in Gaza and to facilitate the reconstruction of the strip, ensuring that aid reaches its beneficiaries.
We welcome the international community’s support for UNRWA, reiterated at the November 16 conference. We call on all States, including the Arab States of the Gulf, to increase their contributions to the Agency’s budget.
France will continue to encourage the implementation of concrete and reciprocal measures aimed at rebuilding trust between the parties. This is the objective we are seeking with our German, Egyptian and Jordanian partners in the framework of the Amman group. We call on the Quartet to work towards this goal as well.
The resumption of dialogue between the parties and the deepening of their cooperation will only be able to avoid a new cycle of violence in the long term if a political horizon is recreated. France’s position in favor of a two-state solution with Jerusalem as its capital remains unchanged. France calls on this Council to work actively towards its implementation.