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Middle East peace process – Statement by the Quartet’s Principals (New York - 23 September 2016)

Representatives of the Quartet — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State John Kerry and European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini — met in New York on 23 September.

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Israel/Palestine: Understand France’s position in nine points

France considers that the conflict will only be resolved through the creation of a viable and democratic independent Palestinian State, living in peace and security alongside Israel.

Who does France support?

1. France is a friend to both Israel and Palestine.

France has strong historical, cultural and human ties with Israel. France was one of the first countries to recognize the new State and establish diplomatic relations with it, as early as 1949. For more than 65 years, France has been advocating Israel’s right to exist and live in security, as well as its full membership of the community of sovereign nations. The bilateral relationship between France and Israel is also supported by the presence in Israel of a large French and French-speaking community, while France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish community.

France has long advocated the creation of a Palestinian State. On 22 November 1974, France voted in favour of recognizing the PLO at the United Nations as an observer, reaffirming the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. In 1982, François Mitterrand was the first French President to express the goal of creating a Palestinian State before the Knesset. In 2010, France raised the status of the General Delegation of Palestine in France, which became the Mission of Palestine and is led by an ambassador. In November 2012, it voted in favour of the status of non-member observer State for Palestine at the United Nations, and in September 2015 for the erection of the Palestinian flag at the UN.

2. France unreservedly condemns terrorist acts aimed at sabotaging hopes of peace.

France condemns most firmly all acts of violence and terrorism, and calls upon all parties to combat all forms of incitement to hatred. On several occasions, alongside its European partners, it called upon all parties to abstain from any action that could aggravate the situation through either incitation or provocation, and asked them to condemn any attack carried out and to rigorously respect the principles of necessity and proportionality in the use of force.

France is unwaveringly committed to Israel’s security, which is a key principle of its regional policy. This is why it calls upon Hamas, with which it has no contact and which is on the European list of terrorist organizations, to respect the conditions set down by the Quartet: renunciation of violence, acknowledgment of Israel’s right to exist, and recognition of the agreements signed between Israel and the PLO.

France has also called upon Israel to fully respect international humanitarian law and to make “proportionate use of force”, particularly during the Gaza war in summer 2014 which led to more than 2100 casualties.

3. France condemns settlement-building, which is illegal under international law.

The building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is an illegal seizure of land which should be the subject of peace negotiations between the parties on the basis of the 1967 Lines. The building of settlements is contrary to international law (particularly the Geneva Convention IV and several United Nations Security Council resolutions), threatens the viability of the two-State solution and constitutes an obstacle to fair and sustainable peace. Between 2002 and 2014, the number of people living in Israeli settlements increased on average by 14,600 per year. Between 2004 and 2014, construction of an average 2300 new buildings per year began in the settlements. More than 570,000 settlers now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Concrete steps have been taken at European level to address the acceleration of settlement-building. The EU guidelines adopted in July 2013 prohibit any European funding for Israeli entities active in the settlements, from 1 January 2014 onwards. Many Member States, including France, have published recommendations warning against the financial, legal and reputational risks of doing business in the settlements. In November 2015, the European Union also adopted an “Interpretative Notice on indication of origin of goods from the territories occupied by Israel” in order to inform European consumers of the origin of imported products.

What solution does France advocate?

4. France considers that the conflict will only be resolved through the creation of a viable and democratic independent Palestinian State, living in peace and security alongside Israel.

The two-State solution is the only solution capable of addressing the legitimate aspirations of both the Israelis and the Palestinians to security, independence, recognition and dignity. With this in mind, France and its European partners have drawn up the parameters that need to guide a resolution of the conflict:

  • borders based on the 1967 Lines, with agreed equivalent land swaps;
  • security arrangements preserving the sovereignty of the Palestinian State and guaranteeing the security of Israel;
  • a fair, equitable and negotiated solution to the refugee problem;
  • an arrangement making Jerusalem the capital of both States.

5. France considers that Jerusalem needs to become the capital of both States, Israel and the future State of Palestine.

Jerusalem has been entirely controlled by Israel since 1967, when Israel captured the eastern part of the city during the Six-Day War. Pending a negotiated settlement of the conflict, and in accordance with international law, France and the rest of the international community acknowledge no sovereignty over Jerusalem. France calls for appeasement of tensions and, in particular, respect for the status quo concerning Holy Places. Putting the status quo in question would risk causing serious destabilization.

What action is France taking?

6. France advocates urgent, renewed mobilization of the international community.

In response to the current deadlock of the peace process, France is calling for an active mobilization of the international community in order to preserve the two-State solution and spark new momentum for peace. The international players, particularly the Quartet (United States, Russia, European Union and United Nations), the permanent members of the Security Council, and European and regional partners, all have a role to play in restoring a political horizon.

7. France has launched an initiative to revive the peace process.

France has launched a two-phase initiative. A ministerial meeting, first, took place in Paris on June 3rd 2016, without the Israelis and Palestinians, in order to reaffirm the international community’s commitment to the two-State solution. At that meeting, the main international actors expressed their willingness to create a framework and incentives so that credible negotiations can resume. An international conference, to which all parties will be invited, will be organized in the second half of 2016 for this purpose.

8. France supports the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas, who defend the camp of peace.

France is an active contributor to Palestine’s economic development and the consolidation of the institutions of the future Palestinian State. It devotes considerable sums (close to €400 million for the period 2008-2014, and €40 million in 2015) to aid for Palestine, about a third of which is destined for Gaza. Palestine remains the leading beneficiary of French budgetary assistance.

9. France encourages inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

It does so, in particular, to foster the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, which will be an integral part of the Palestinian State. It supports the government of national unity under Mahmoud Abbas, which includes no minister from Hamas (placed in 2003 on the EU list of terrorist organizations) and which fulfils the three criteria set down by the Quartet: recognition of Israel, refusal of violence, and acceptance of past agreements.

Update : September 2016

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