I thank the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco, for his presentation. I also thank the Permanent Representative of the State of Israel and the Permanent Observer of Palestine for their statements.
I will begin with some words on Lebanon. We welcome the establishment of the new Lebanese Government, which began its work after presidential declaration adopted in December. The visit to France by Mr. Saad Hariri, President of the Lebanese Council, accompanied by several ministers, was an opportunity for the French authorities to express their support for bolstering the Lebanese State and its institutions, for implementing the reforms that the country needs and for continuing the implementation of United Nations resolutions, particularly Security Council resolution 1701 (2006).
We believe that Mr. Hariri’s visit to Syria is also a step in the right direction. The normalization of relations between the two countries is an opportunity for the region, and we hope it will continue and that it will go all the way. I am thinking in particular of the demarcation of the border between the two countries, in conformity with Security Council resolutions.
Resolution 1701 (2006) must be fully implemented. In that regard, contacts between the United Nations and the Israeli authorities should continue on the question of Ghajar. We believe a withdrawal would contribute to the easing of tensions in that sector.
I move now to the Israeli-Palestinian dossier, and I wish to bring out four points.
First, our objective is clearly the relaunching of the peace process. There is no other option but a return to negotiation, aimed at the creation of a viable, independent and democratic Palestinian State living side by side with Israel with secure and recognized borders based on Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. That is also the position of the European Union, as the head of that delegation will state in his remarks, with which France associates itself.
The international community should commit itself to participating in the negotiations between the two parties and to guaranteeing the parameters of a final accord that will allow both parties to re-engage. We resolutely support the efforts being undertaken by the United States. The European Union is ready to play its full role, and we will call on the Arab States to associate themselves with those efforts.
The second point is the need for progress on the ground. As those who spoke before me have stressed, settlements remain a major obstacle on the road to a solution. The decision of the Israeli Government to announce a 10-month moratorium on new settlements and on new building permits in the West Bank is a step in the right direction. However, no peace will be possible without a complete cessation of construction in the settlements, including in East Jerusalem. They are illegal. As the President of the Republic has recalled, settlements make the prospects for a Palestinian State more difficult, and they do not contribute to Israeli security; on the contrary, they increase the dangers.
In that context, with regard to Jerusalem, all forms of provocation should be avoided. We call on the Israeli authorities in particular to cease the destruction of homes and other evictions in East Jerusalem. There cannot be a peace that excludes Jerusalem, which — as President Sarkozy said in his statement to the Knesset on 23 June 2008 — is destined to become the capital of two States.
The Palestinian Authority, for its part, should continue with its efforts to bolster the security sector and to implement the rule of law. Continuing the fight against terrorism, without mercy, should remain a priority.
Thirdly, beyond humanitarian matters that continue to be of concern to us, to forget Gaza would be a political mistake. We call for the full implementation of resolution 1860 (2009), including with the immediate lifting of the blockade — which hits the territory hard with regard to humanitarian aid, commercial goods and the movement of people — but also with a halt to the illegal arms trafficking in Gaza. We regret that the State of Israel continues not to allow the implementation of resolution 1860 (2009).
We also call for the immediate release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, a matter that France follows with the greatest attention.
With regard to the Goldstone report (A/HRC/12/48), I recall the consistent position of France. International humanitarian law must be respected in all places, in all circumstances and by all parties to a conflict. That applies equally in Gaza and in southern Israel. In that regard, I recall how important it is for both parties to carry out an independent inquiry process consistent with international standards, regarding alleged violations of international humanitarian law and human rights during the Gaza crisis.
Fourthly, and finally, the international community should provide strong support to the Palestinian Authority and Mr. Mahmoud Abbas with a view to strengthening the institutions of the future Palestinian State. It is also for Israel to play its role with far greater resolve. Gestures have been made on the ground, but these remain insufficient. The Palestinians must be able to perceive that developments on the ground are moving towards an end to the occupation, including in the areas of freedom of movement and access. Here, financial support for the Palestinian Authority is an essential element which has political implications.
Yesterday evening the French Minister for Foreign Affairs chaired another meeting to follow up the international Donors Conference for the Palestinian State, which was held in Paris in December 2007. Following the Paris Conference, $5.2 billion was allocated to the Palestinian Authority. France attaches particular importance to the fulfilment of these commitments. Participants in yesterday’s Paris meeting included Mr. Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Prime Minister; Ms. Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Mr. Tony Blair, Quartet Special Representative; and the Norwegian and Egyptian Ministers for Foreign Affairs. The Palestinian Prime Minister’s plan, which we support, was much discussed at the meeting. That plan falls within the framework of the Paris Conference, whose outcome would be the establishment of a Palestinian State.
I repeat: our principal objective is the urgent resumption of negotiations. This involves the Israelis and the Palestinians, but we must not forget the other regional tracks of the peace process. In that regard, we are also working to create conditions conducive to a return to talks between Syria and Israel.
The international community and the Security Council have an important role to play, because the situation in the Middle East concerns us all. France is ready to fully play its role in this effort. That is why President Sarkozy has proposed a peace summit, which would support United States efforts and would support the resumption of peace negotiations; it would be prepared in consultation with all relevant actors.