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21 July 2010 - Security Council - The situation in Middle East : Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I thank the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Pascoe, for his briefing. I also thank the Permanent Representative of the State of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine for their statements.

I should like to address four points, starting with the issue of Gaza, which has been front-page news due to the flotilla episode.

— France condemned the disproportionate use of force. We would like to see the full implementation of the presidential statement of 1 June 2010 (S/PRST/2010/9), in which the Security Council called for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards. We hope that the efforts of the parties concerned, especially Turkey, the State of Israel and the Secretary-General, will make it possible for this objective to be met.

— Furthermore, the flotilla episode brought to the fore what we have been saying for some time in this forum: the blockade of the Gaza Strip is not only unacceptable, but also counterproductive. We welcome the decision of the Governments responsible for this policy to reconsider it. In particular, the announcement by the Government of Israel of measures easing the restrictions is welcome, and we hope that it will be fully implemented.

— We believe that it would be timely to go even further, with the aim of improving the lives of the civilian population and making economic recovery possible in Gaza. I am thinking specifically of such steps as increasing the capacity of crossings, resuming exports and liberalizing the conditions governing the movement of persons to and from the Gaza Strip.

— The European Union is following the situation very closely, as shown by the visit at the beginning of this week by High Representative Ashton. The ministers for foreign affairs of the European Union also expressed their willingness for the Union to contribute to a mechanism allowing for the full implementation of resolution 1860 (2009).

— I also note the need for the immediate cessation of all violence, in particular rocket attacks on southern Israel. We further call for the unconditional and immediate liberation of Gilad Shalit, an issue that is being followed very closely in my country.

— The flotilla incident also demonstrated the need to reintegrate the territory of Gaza into the peace process. To that end, one of our highest priorities should be to encourage the current mediation efforts in favour of inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

My second point is that we must not lose sight of the fact that the main objective remains the immediate relaunching of the peace process. There is no alternative to the resumption of negotiations towards the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian State living in peace side by side with Israel within secure and recognized borders on the basis of Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. That is also the position of the European Union, as will be indicated by the acting head of its delegation in his statement, with which France associates itself. The international community must commit itself to assisting negotiations and to guaranteeing the parameters of a final agreement that would enable the parties to re-engage in dialogue. We are working very closely with United States and Egyptian authorities to define the terms of an international framework that would allow the negotiations to resume.

My third point is that changes are necessary on the ground to create conditions favourable to the resumption of negotiations.
— The situation in Jerusalem remains concerning. We therefore deplore the recent demolition of homes in Arab neighbourhoods of the city. Like the destruction of Palestinian houses, settlement activities in East Jerusalem are unacceptable and provocative. There can be no peace that excludes Jerusalem, which, as the President of the French Republic said in his address to the Knesset on 23 June 2008, is likely to become the capital of two States.

— Settlements throughout the Palestinian territories remain a major obstacle to a solution. The decision of the Government of Israel to announce a 10-month moratorium on new construction and building permits in the West Bank was a step in the right direction that should be fully implemented. No peace will be possible without the complete cessation of the illegal construction of settlements. As noted by the President of France, settlements complicate the establishment of a Palestinian State and thus do not contribute to Israel’s security; on the contrary, they increase the dangers.

— The implementation by the Israeli authorities of confidence-building measures on the ground would be likely to promote the rapid resumption of the direct talks that we all hope to see. For instance, prisoners could be released, Zones A and B could be extended, and restrictions on access and movement in the West Bank could continue to be lifted.

— The Palestinian Authority, for its part, must pursue its efforts to strengthen the security sector and establish the rule of law. The merciless struggle against terrorism must remain a priority.

My fourth and last point is that the international community must provide strong support for the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas in consolidating the institutions of the future Palestinian State. The challenge is also for Israel to assist more resolutely in that process, particularly in the West Bank. Gestures have been made on the ground, but they are insufficient. The Palestinians must be able to see that developments on the ground will lead to the end of the occupation, in particular in terms of freedom of access and movement.

In this regard, we reiterate our support for Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad’s plan, pursuant to the Paris Conference of December 2007, to create a Palestinian State within a fixed period of time. In order to maintain the momentum of international support created by the Conference, on 1 July French Minister for Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner held another follow-up meeting with the co-Presidents in the presence of Prime Minister Fayyad and Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

I reiterate that our prime objective is the urgent resumption of negotiations, not only on issues of concern to Israelis and Palestinians, but also other, regional aspects of the peace process. Accordingly, we are working to establish conditions for the resumption of talks between Israel and Syria. We are also pursuing our efforts in Lebanon and call on the parties to implement resolution 1701 (2006), which would guarantee peace between the two countries. In this context, we reaffirm the crucial role played by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. The Force must be able to discharge its mandate with the full cooperation of the parties.

The international community and this Council have a major role to play because the situation in the Middle East concerns all of us. France is ready to play its full part in that effort. To that end, the President of France has called for a peace summit, organized in cooperation with all concerned actors, to support United States efforts and assist in the resumption of talks between the two parties./.

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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU