Ms. Catherine Colonna’s speech to the Security Council (…)
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Ms. Catherine Colonna’s speech to the Security Council (…)

Mr. President,

I thank the Secretary-General and his personal representative and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East, as well as his deputy, for informing our Council. And I welcome the personal commitment of the Secretary General in this very worrying and, shall we say, dangerous situation. Very worrying on a humanitarian level and dangerous because the region is at risk of fire.

Our council must now act and fulfill its responsibilities. It is his duty, it is our duty.

We are obliged to condemn without any ambiguity the terrorist attack by Hamas and other terrorist groups on Israel, a massive, inhumane and disgusting attack, an attack on civilians killed in cold blood, tortured, raped. No one can dispute the reality that on October 7, the terrorist group Hamas launched a terrorist offensive against a member of the United Nations, Israel. This terrorism also affected France: thirty of our people lost their lives, and nine disappeared or were held hostage.

I repeat our demand that all hostages be released, immediately and unconditionally. Children, including the French, are probably being held hostage in Gaza today. No one in this Council must accept this: all hostages must be freed.

In the face of this attack, I want to recall France’s solidarity with Israel and its constant support for its security. Israel has a right to security. Israel has the right to defend itself and protect its population, so that such an attack never happens again. The President of the Republic was reminded of this even today in Israel. I went there nine days ago and saw the pain and sorrow of the Israeli people.

Israel has the right to defend itself and is obliged to do so in accordance with international law, especially international humanitarian law, and therefore to protect the civilian population.

We all know, too, that Hamas in no way represents the Palestinians. In the Gaza Strip, where Hamas dominates through terror and holds the population hostage, it brings only the suffering of violence in battle and a dire humanitarian crisis.

In the face of this humanitarian crisis, our duty – including Israel’s – is to guarantee the continuous supply of basic necessities to civilians, including women and children in Gaza: water, food, medicine, fuel. Civilian lives must be preserved. Any loss of civilian life is a tragedy.

And for that we must guarantee safe, fast and unhindered, but also sustainable, humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip; we must ensure respect for international humanitarian law and its principles, which I remind you of: humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. Finally, we must demand the establishment of a humanitarian ceasefire, which could ultimately lead to a ceasefire. I recalled this last Saturday in Cairo during the peace summit organized by Egypt, whose efforts I applaud here, and the Prime Minister recalled this yesterday in the French Parliament.

Since Saturday, several humanitarian convoys have managed to pass through the Rafah crossing. They have to keep coming in, in greater numbers. The Secretary General of the United Nations said it well: the entry of these trucks is a matter of life and death for the residents of the Gaza Strip. Their number must increase. More must be done, because the needs are enormous. Every civilian matters, every minute counts.

France is committed to responding to the humanitarian emergency. Like the European Union, it increased its aid to the population. Since October 7, it has provided 20 million euros of additional humanitarian aid to the population of Gaza, through the action of United Nations agencies, as well as the ICRC and humanitarian non-governmental organizations. I pay tribute to them, as well as to the decisive action of the Secretary General. France has also chartered a special flight with 50 tonnes of emergency humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, to support Egypt’s efforts, which we encourage. Our total aid to the Palestinian population will thus reach more than 110 million euros in 2023.

We also have a duty to prevent the entire region from burning.

France is committed to avoiding a prolongation of this conflict. Some actors must refrain from trying to take advantage of the current situation. We speak to them in the clearest way. We warn them against any attempt to interfere in the conflict that would create a spiral. A fire would not benefit anyone, neither in the region nor beyond.

Mr. President,

The seriousness of the situation reminds us and demands: among our duties, we have an imperative duty to return to the path of peace. We must act to recreate the conditions conducive to a lasting political solution, capable of responding to the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace, not face to face, but side by side. The conditions for this lasting peace are known: they are essential guarantees provided to Israel for its security and a state for the Palestinians. The only viable solution is a two-state solution. This is what France has always defended and will continue to defend. I called him on Saturday in Cairo. President Macron is saying it again today to Israelis, Palestinians and regional partners.

We must continue to support the Palestinian Authority, and even strengthen it, with the aim of resolutely restarting the political process with all. The President of the Republic therefore wanted to go to Ramallah today, after talks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. He just got there and is meeting with President Abbas.

But we must all mobilize to find a political horizon. This Council must be able to fully discharge its responsibility in this regard. It is high time to unequivocally condemn Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel, call for respect for international law, including humanitarian law, and call for the continued delivery of aid to the people of Gaza.

This is why France voted in favor of the draft resolution presented by Brazil, which I thank for its commitment and efforts, and will therefore continue to support any initiative of the Council, which is fair and based on our common principles. This Council must act now.

Mr. President,

On this day 78 years ago, the Charter of the United Nations entered into force. We are here to serve that and to serve peace. In these difficult days, France calls on everyone to take responsibility before the Charter and before the people.

Thank you./.

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