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Israel / Palestine

“The status quo that we’re familiar with is not an answer. It’s a situation of deadlock. France will once again – and I give you my word on this – do everything in her power to help restore the groundwork for negotiations that should lead to the coexistence of the two states, which we all know is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.”

François Hollande, President of the French Republic, opening debate of the 67th session of the General Assembly, 25 September 2012

1. Latest developments in New York Retour à la table des matières

- On 26 March 2014, following the release of the Secretary-General’s report, the members of the Security Council met in closed consultations to hear Mr. Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, on the activities carried out by UNDOF over the last three months.

The Permanent Representative of France deplored the deterioration of the situation. There was a need to convey to stakeholders that the respect of UNDOF and its freedom of movement had to be guaranteed. It finally was crucial to focus on the implementation of the mandate and the security of UNDOF’s contingents.

- On 18 March 2014, the Security Council met on the situation in the Middle East in presence of Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

Mr. Feltman stressed the need to make progress in the peace talks and recalled the Secretary-General’s support to a two-state solution. He expressed concerns about the continuation of Israeli colonization in the West bank, as well as the new escalation of violence in Gaza. The humanitarian conditions were deteriorating for the civilian population in Gaza, as a result of the blockade. Mr. Feltman urged parties to show restraint and responsibility.

During the closed consultations that followed, the Permanent representative of France deplored the continuation of Israeli colonization, the demolitions in East Jerusalem, as well as the blockade of Gaza, and supported the efforts of the US Secretary of State to speed up the negotiations.

- On 25 February 2014, the Security Council met on the situation in the Middle East, including the state of the peace process in the Middle East, in presence of Mr Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.

Mr Feltman supported the efforts of Mr John Kerry on the peace process. He reminded that this process will have to allow a two-state solution. He reported on the continuation of Israeli colonization and attacks against settlers in the West bank. He expressed concern at the increased number of launched rockets as well as the humanitarian situation in Gaza. On Syria, Mr Feltman commended the adoption on 22 February of the resolution on humanitarian access. On Lebanon, he commended the formation of a new government but emphasized the need to remain vigilant regarding the persistence of terrorist attacks in the country.

During closed consultations that followed, the Permanent Representative of France regretted the continuation of the Israeli colonization in the West bank as well as the increasing violence in the West bank and in Gaza. He supported the efforts of Mr Kerry to reach an agreement. He called on all parties to refrain from any action that could undermine the process.

On Syria, the French Representative regretted the lack of good faith of the Syrian government during the Geneva II negotiations. He reminded that, despite the adoption by the Security Council of the resolution on humanitarian access, violence against civilians was continuing with even more cruel weapons. On Lebanon, he commended the formation of a new government. He announced a meeting of the International Support Group to Lebanon to be held in Paris on 5 March.

- On 20 January 2014, during the Security Council open debate on the Middle East, Mr Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance of putting an end to the status quo, especially in the context of Israeli colonization and the Gaza blockade. Mr Ban recalled his support to American Secretary of State John Kerry’s initiative to achieve a two-state solution.

The ambassador to the non-member observer state of Palestine reminded that 2014 had been declared year of solidarity with the Palestinian people. Mr Mansour stated he was in favor of a solution involving two states with Jerusalem-east as a capital. He also called for firm and unanimous condemnation of Israeli settlements. Finally, the Palestinian observer stated his worry about the tragic situation in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Syria. The permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations, Mr Ron Prosor highlighted the role of Israel, island of stability and democracy in the Middle east according to him. The Israeli representative blamed calls for violence from the Palestinians for undermining future negotiations.

The permanent representative of France stated his support to the United States’ efforts in support of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Any other interim solution had to be valued out and efforts needed to focus on a definitive resolution. To that effect, Mr Araud reminded to the parties that it was necessary for them to abstain from any action that might undermine the negotiations, including the construction of new settlements. Additionally -should there be a definitive solution- the European Union was ready to set up a “special privileged partnership” including economic, political, safety and social aspects.

- On 16 December 2013, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Mr. Robert Serry, welcomed the resumption of discussions between Israel and Palestine, as well as the increased aid announced on the same day by the European Union for the peace process. The United Nations Special Coordinator has urged the Israeli authorities to investigate the case of a young 14year-old Palestinian killed by Israeli forces. Mr. Serry expressed concerns about the security, energetic and humanitarian situation in Gaza, where winter climatic conditions have displaced thousands of people. In the Golan, the situation remained volatile. Finally, Mr. Serry deplored the death of an Israeli security agent in Lebanon and called parties for calm.

During the private consultations that followed, Mr. Hervé Ladsous, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General for peace-keeping operations, presented the security situation which the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) had to face.

The permanent representative of France shared the concerns expressed by the Council members in the region, condemning the continuation of the Israeli settlement in the West Bank, and reiterating his support to the forces and UNDOF mandate.

The complete timeline of events here.

2. Background Retour à la table des matières

France is working within the relevant UN bodies to promote an agreement on the establishment of a viable, modern, democratic, independant Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel within secure and recognized borders.

- The Middle East is discussed every month at the Security Council under the agenda item "Situation in the Middle East", either in quarterly public debates (in which States that are not members of the Security Council may participate, as well as the European Union and other regional organizations) or in private consultations for Council members. During all these meetings issues relating to Lebanon are also discussed (see our file on Lebanon).

The Palestinian issue is also widely discussed at the General Assembly in its various committees, and at ECOSOC, since around twenty resolutions, on the initiative of the Delegation of Palestine, are voted annually by these organs.

- Two peacekeeping operations are deployed in the region:

— UNIFIL (see our file on Lebanon),

— The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights were conquered by Israel in 1967. UNDOF was established in 1974 to monitor the cease-fire following the Arab-Israeli war of 1973. The force has about one thousand personnel. The UNDOF mandate is renewed every six months by a resolution of the Security Council, whose text remained unchanged for many years until June 2001 after violent incidents on 15 May and 5 June favoured by Syria which put the ceasefire in jeopardy. While the resolution traditionally called on parties to "immediately implement resolution 338" of 1973, resolution 1994 recalled the obligations of the parties to preserve the cease-fire and to cooperate fully with the operations of UNDOF.

- The Security Council has adopted numerous resolutions on the situation in the Middle East. Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) calling for "withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" are among the most famous in the history of the Security Council.

The most recent Security Council resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are the following:

— Security Council Resolution 1515(2003) approved the road map established by the Quartet (EU, UN, Russia, USA) whose aim was to lead, step by step, to a permanent settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the existence of two states.

— Resolution 1544(2004) reaffirmed the commitment of the Security Council to see both parties meet their obligations under the Road map.

— Following a meeting of the Quartet in New York, the Security Council adopted on 16 December 2008 a new resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian issue (resolution 1850), its first since the 1544 resolution four years before. With this resolution, adopted by an overwhelming majority (14 votes in favour and one abstention, Libya), the Security Council declared its support for the Annapolis process (named after the November 2007 conference), which would lead to a peace treaty that would resolve all outstanding issues without exception, on the basis of the principle, once again reaffirmed, of two States.

- Following the outbreak of the Israeli offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip (see below), the Security Council, presided by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, adopted a new resolution (1860) on 8 January 2009 (by 14 votes with one abstention, USA): it called in particular for an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, called for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, asked that measures be taken to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained reopening of the crossing points, and reaffirmed the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders.

UN Photo/Mark Garten

Photo : Bernard Kouchner, French Minister of Foreign Affairs (2007-2010) at the Security Council - 8 January 2009
UN Photo/ Mark Garten

The "Gaza flotilla" incident

In late May 2010, eight ships chartered by organizations claiming humanitarian objectives tried to break the blockade of Gaza set up by Israel. This led to the intervention of the Israeli security forces who took control of the ships. The assault and subsequent violent resistance resulted in the deaths of several people. Many more were injured, including Israeli troops.

- Following these events, the Security Council held an emergency meeting. In his statement, the permanent representative of France asked in particular that light be shed on this incident through an in-depth inquiry and called for the lifting of the blockade around the Gaza Strip.

A Presidential Statement was adopted at the end of the meeting (S/PRST/2010/9).

Read the Declarations made by the French Authorities on 31 May 2010.

- On 2 August 2010, the General Secretary of the United Nations Secretary General announced the launch of an international panel of inquiry on the these events and appointed Mr. Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister of New Zealand as Chair of the Panel and Mr. Alvaro Uribe, outgoing Colombian President as Vice-Chair. The Secretary General also announced that the Panel would include two additional members, one each from Israel and Turkey. In a press statement, the Security Council welcomed the announcement made by the Secretary General of the UN.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner greeted this announcement “in line with the presidential statement adopted by the Security Council on June 1, which called for the establishment of “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.” Bernard Kouchner welcomed the Israeli authorities’ decision to take part in the Panel.

- On 15 September 2010, the Panel issued an interim report to the Secretary-General, outlining its the working methods it had adopted. The members of the Panel decided they would examine the national investigation reports issued by Israel and Turkey. Turkey presented its report in September 2010 and Israel in January 2011. As specified in the mandate set by the General Secretary, the Panel will have, in the light of the information gathered from Turkey and Israel, to identify the facts and issue recommendations in a final report, in order to prevent such incidents in the future.

The "Goldstone Report" of the Fact Finding Mission to the UN on the conflict in Gaza

On 27 December 2008, Israel launched a military offensive named "Operation Cast Lead”, against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, citing the right to defense itself against the many rocket attacks driven from this territory. This operation resulted in the death of nearly 1400 persons. Following operation "Cast Lead”, the Security Council adopted resolution 1860 (see above) and the Council of Human Rights in Geneva set up a Fact Finding Mission of UN in the conflict in Gaza known as the " Goldstone Commission". Its report was made public in late September 2009, highlighting a number of concrete cases of violations of human rights and international law by the Israeli army and Hamas, and recommending that the Security Council be seized of the issue.

During the quarterly public meeting of the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East on 14 October 2009, which followed the publication of the report, the permanent representative of France stressed that "the facts that are alleged are serious. Throughout the conflict in Gaza, sparked by the firing of Hamas against Israel, France reiterated its consistent position: international humanitarian law must be respected everywhere in all circumstances and by all parties in conflict, in particular in Gaza and southern Israel. We therefore believe that both sides must now initiate a process for an independent investigation which will meet international standards on alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights during the crisis in Gaza. "

The General Assembly of the UN adopted on 5 November 2009 a resolution endorsing the so-called "Goldstone Report" on the conflict in Gaza (A/RES/64/10). In its resolution, the General Assembly called upon the authorities of Israel and Palestine to take all appropriate steps to undertake investigations that are independent, credible and in conformity with international standards into the serious violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law.

The General Assembly adopts the resolution entitled: "Follow-up to the Report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict" - 26 February 2010 (Photo/Brieuc Pont)

On 26 February 2010, the General Assembly adopted a second resolution, entitled "Follow-up to the Report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict", following that of 5 November 2009 in which it reiterated “its call upon the Government of Israel", and "its urging for the conduct by the Palestinian side" of the investigations.

On 19 August 2010, the Secretary-General submitted a report to the Security Council on the establishment of internal inquiries by Israeli and Palestinian authorities following the Goldstone report. The Secretary-General indicated he had transmitted them to the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

(March 2014)

3. Latest French statements Retour à la table des matières

- 20 January 2014 - Security Council - Situation in the Middle East - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 22 October 2013 - Security Council - Situation in the Middle East - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 23 July 2013 - Situation in the Middle East - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 24 April 2013 – Security Council - Situation in the Middle-East – Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 23 January 2013 - Security Council - Situation in the Middle East – Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 20 December 2012 - Israel / New settlement project Statement by the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

All French statements here.

4. Reference Documents Retour à la table des matières

- 20 December 2012 - Security Council - Press Statement on Situation in the Middle East

- 19 December 2012 - Security Council - Resolution 2084 - extending the mandate of the UNDOF in the Golan until the 30 June 2013

- 29 November 2012 - General Assembly - Resolution A/RES/67/19 granting Palestine the status of observer state

- 21 November 2012 - Security Council - Press Statement on Situation in the Middle East

- 27 June 2012 - Security Council - Resolution 2052 renewing for six months the mandate of UNDOF

- 21 December 2011 - Resolution 2028 - Renewing the mandate of UNDOF

- 30 June 2011 - Resolution 1994 - Renewing the mandate of UNDOF

- 23 May 2011 - Council of the European Union conclusions on Middle East Peace Process

- 22 December 2010 - Resolution 1965 - Renewing for six months the mandate of the UNDOF

- 27 September 2010 - Resolution A/HRC/15/L.33 of the Human Rights Council - Follow-up to the report of the independent international fact-finding mission

- 11 June 2010 - "Averting Another Gaza" - Joint article by Bernard Kouchner, Franco Frattini and Miguel Angel Moratinos, published in the New York Times

- 1 June 2010 - Statement by the President of the Security Council - S/PRST/2010/9

- 26 February 2010 - General Assembly - Resolution A/RES/64/254

- 5 November 2009 - General Assembly Resolution 64/10

- 11 May 2009 - Statement by the President of the Security Council

- 21 January 2009 - Gaza - Security Council Press Statement

- 15 January 2009 - Situation in Gaza – Elements to the press given by the President of the Security Council after the consultations

- 8 January 2009 - Security Council Resolution 1860

- 16 December 2008 - Security Council Resolution 1850

- 19 May 2004 - Security Council Resolution 1544

- 19 November 2003 - Security Council Resolution 1515

- 22 October 1973 - Security Council Resolution 338

- 22 November 1967 - Security Council Resolution 242

5. Useful Links Retour à la table des matières

- Country file on France-Diplomatie

- UN website about the question of Palestine

- Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process

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