7540th Security Council Meeting on Middle East Including Palestinian Question - Part 1

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22-Oct-2015 03:15:12
Leaders of Israel, Palestine Must Take Public Stand against Extremism, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Security Council.
7540th Meeting (AM & PM)

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Speakers in Middle East Debate Also Call for More Assertive Role on Syria Crisis
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict had entered a “dangerous” phase amid a fresh wave of violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, the Deputy Secretary-General told the Security Council today as he pressed leaders from both sides to publicly take a stand against extremism and incitement, as failure to do so left the door open to promote destructive extremist agendas.

Jan Eliasson, updating the Council ahead of an open debate on the Middle East, said that 47 Palestinians and 7 Israelis had been killed, and more than 5,000 Palestinians and 70 Israelis had been injured since the beginning of October. The Secretary-General’s visit to Israel, Palestine and Jordan had one goal: to support collective efforts to stop the violence and begin to draw a political horizon that would lead to lasting peace. “Let us be clear, there is no justification whatsoever for murder,” he said.

The crisis would not have erupted, he said, if Palestinians had had hope about a viable State of their own, an economy that offered jobs, and the ability to emerge from a “stifling and humiliating” occupation. They saw instead the growth of illegal settlements and emergence of a de facto settler community with better infrastructure, services and security than in Palestinian populated areas.

Likewise, he said, the situation had sharpened a sense of fear among Israelis who felt that their personal security had been threatened and saw signs of growing anti-Semitism around the world and attempts that they believed aimed to delegitimize their country. Taken together, the failed peace initiatives and leaders’ reluctance to make progress had created a “highly combustible reality” in a region plagued by violent religious extremism. The vitriolic nature of the public discourse was alarming, Mr. Eliasson said, calling on all stakeholders, including the Palestinian leadership, to condemn the violence.

Following those remarks, Riad Malki, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the State of Palestine, said Palestinians were under lockdown and assault by Israel. The Council could not justify remaining on the sidelines while the violence risked spiralling into a religious conflict fomented by the “extremist” Israeli Government. A practical step would be to reaffirm the basis for justly resolving the conflict: the occupation was illegal and must end.

In addition, he said, a time frame must be set to end the occupation and options considered for the protection of Palestinians. Equally urgent was the dangerous situation in occupied East Jerusalem and ensuring that Israel complied with its obligation to preserve the status quo. “We cannot progress in any way towards a peace based on the two-State solution on the pre-1967 borders while Israel continues to actively and illegally alter the demographic and physical situation on the ground and entrench the occupation,” he asserted.

Danny Danon (Israel) said the streets of his country had been swept by a “savage” tide of terror: unprovoked attacks against Israelis for no reason other than that they were “Jews living in their historic homeland”. Israel, like any country, was obliged to defend its citizens.

He said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had repeatedly accused Israel of trying to change the status quo. “This inflammatory allegation is false, and President Abbas knows it,” he said, stressing that Palestinians were trying to score easy victories without having to negotiate or recognize the Jewish State. The best way to reduce tensions was to urge President Abbas to accept the Israeli Prime Minister’s call to meet with him.

For its part, the United Nations must end its usual practice of calling on both sides to show restraint and state clearly: there was one side that had been instigating a wave of terror. “Stop making excuses for the Palestinians, and start holding them accountable,” he said.

Throughout the day, speakers condemned the violence, urging Israeli and Palestinian leaders to stop incitement, reduce tensions and restore calm. Some expressed hope that the Secretary-General’s visit, and the upcoming meeting of the Middle East Quartet in Vienna, would attenuate the situation. While prospects for a two-State solution appeared to be diminishing, many advocated it as the only path to peace. In that context, Egypt’s delegate pressed the Council to ensure that Israel did not continue to “devour” Palestinian territories.

Taking a broad view, Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, said Palestine and Syria had become a breeding ground for terrorism, a situation that required a review of all Council mechanisms and resolutions in which the Palestinian question was the central issue. The protection of Palestinians by the United Nations could be easily ensured through the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).

The crisis in Syria was another major focus of the day, with several speakers urging the Council play a more assertive role in facilitating a political solution. France’s delegate pressed the 15-member body to tackle the root causes by fighting terrorism more effectively, implementing a political transition and responding to the horrors suffered by the Syrian population. President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, supported by outside forces, terrorized and killed civilians.

The representative of the Russian Federation said chaos stemming from foreign interference had been exploited by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS). His Government, at Syria’s request, had initiated air and missile strikes on terrorist formations. Collective approaches were needed to eliminate that threat. He urged all to join work on a Russian draft resolution on Syria that proposed “closing ranks” to fight terrorism and launch a political process on the basis of the Geneva communiqué, a call also put forward by the representative of Saudi Arabia.

On that point, the United States representative said Russian firepower had focused not on ISIL — its stated target — but rather on those opposed to Mr. Assad’s rule, with 80 per cent of the targets hit outside ISIL-controlled areas.

Syria’s delegate said “genetically engineered” moderate terrorists had hindered any peaceful settlement and used the Syrian diaspora as a way to force the Government to change its independent political choices.

Outlining a way forward, the United Kingdom’s delegate said that with France, his Government would advance proposals to end the indiscriminate use of barrel bombs. The Russian Federation would need to defend its actions to the Council, as well as to Sunni communities worldwide, and use its influence to urge the Assad regime to stop its abuses.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Spain, Jordan, New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia, Angola, Lithuania, Chad, Nigeria, Chile, China, Norway, Qatar, Sweden, Maldives, Guatemala, Lebanon, Iran (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Japan, India, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Morocco, South Africa, Turkey, Pakistan, Algeria, Tunisia, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, Iceland, Botswana, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, Cuba and Zimbabwe, and the European Union, as well as an observer of the Holy See.

The Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People also spoke.

The representative of Israel took the floor a second time.

The meeting began at 10:13 a.m. and ended at 7:02 p.m.
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