Statement by Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the UN, at the UNSC briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

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November 22, 2023

Mr. President,

I wish to thank Mesdames Bahous, Russell and Kanem for their briefings, and to reiterate France’s full support for UN Women, UNICEF and UNFPA in their engagement to help the people of Gaza.

France welcomes the agreement reached in the last few hours, which should lead to the release of dozens of hostages and a truce. We wish to thank Qatar, the United States and Egypt for facilitating this agreement. This is a positive step. Other hostage releases must follow.

France calls for the unconditional and immediate release of all hostages detained by Hamas and other terrorist groups since October 7. These hostages include women and children.

France condemns the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas and other terrorist groups on the 7th of October, as well as the sexual violence and the abduction of children committed on that day. The Security Council must condemn them as well, without ambiguity.

Israel has the right to defend itself in the face of barbaric terrorist attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, and the duty to do so in compliance with international law.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is catastrophic. The number of Palestinian civilian victims and wounded is increasing day by day. Women and children are particularly vulnerable, accounting for two-thirds of all victims.

France calls for the immediate implementation of the resolution adopted by this Council last week, and will look very carefully at the proposals made by the United Nations to ensure monitoring of its implementation.

In the meantime, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip must be ensured as a matter of urgency. All crossings must be opened. The number of convoys must match with needs, which are huge. France has contributed actively : we have already deployed more than 100 tons of humanitarian cargo and increased our support to 100 million euros since the 7th of October. We will continue our efforts in the coming days, by providing further medical and food aid. The conference held in Paris on the 9th of November, under the auspices of President Macron, mobilized over a billion euros in contributions. We must do more.

Regarding wounded or sick children, France is doing everything it can to ensure that they can receive care in France, if that’s useful and necessary.

Civilian infrastructures and hospitals, and humanitarian and health workers, must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law. France condemns all shelling of civilians and civilian infrastructures. We recall that UNRWA buildings which house civilians must not be targeted. France once again hails the engagement on the ground of the United Nations, UNRWA personnel, non-governmental organizations and all humanitarian actors.

We also condemn the occupation of civilian infrastructures by Hamas, which runs counter to international humanitarian law.

Mr. President,

The extreme gravity of the situation in Gaza must not allow us to forget the extent of the violence perpetrated against the Palestinian population in the West Bank. France demands that the Israeli authorities put an end to this violence immediately. We are fully committed to avoiding a spillover of this conflict to the rest of the region. The safety of UNIFIL, UNDOF and UNTSO blue helmets must be guaranteed. We condemn the Houthis firing towards Israel and their detour of a commercial vessel on the 19th of November.

Mr. President,

We must restore a political horizon, and allow both Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace and security. The resumption of a peace process is vital, otherwise the current tragedy will be inevitably followed by other tragedies. This process should lead to a two-state solution, with necessary guarantees for Israel’s security and a state for the Palestinian people. This is the only viable solution.

Against this background, France will continue to call for an immediate humanitarian truce that will lead to a ceasefire, which we must all strive for. This Council must now speak with one voice on this matter.

Thank you.

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