8429th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Middle East

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18-Dec-2018 02:11:02
Special Coordinator, Briefing on Middle East Peace Process, Voices Deep Concern over Fading International Consensus Around Two-State Formula

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The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process expressed deep concern today over the weakening of the international consensus around a two-State resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, as he briefed the Security Council on continuing violence, provocation and settlement activity on the ground.

“Without a political horizon, all our collective and individual efforts merely contribute to managing the conflict rather than resolving it,” said Nickolay Mladenov in his regular monthly briefing. This month it focused on implementation of resolution 2334 (2016) during the reporting period and in the past year, and preceded statements by all Council members, among whom the representative of the United States signalled the release of a new plan for peace.

Mr. Mladenov said a dangerous escalation of terrorist attacks, clashes, protests and violence in the West Bank have led to the deaths of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians, and called upon security services on both sides to work together to restore calm and avoid escalation. Regarding the implementation of resolution 2334 (2016), he said no steps have been taken either during the reporting period or in the past year to end all settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as the resolution requires. Noting that the text also calls for preventing all violence against civilians, he said violence and the threat of war continues nevertheless, with 75 Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces and seven Israelis, including three soldiers and four civilians, killed by Palestinians. Major escalation in Gaza almost brought Israel and Hamas to war, he added.

He reported that provocative actions, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric, all proscribed under resolution 2334 (2016), continue alongside the celebration of deadly attacks by Hamas and Fatah, as well as a series of inflammatory speeches by Palestinian religious leaders and provocative statements by Israeli officials. In other areas covered by resolution 2334 (2016), positive developments include the mobilization of international support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and for improving life in Gaza. Beyond the enclave, civil society groups continue to mobilize in support of peace, he noted. However, negative trends continue to overshadow the positive, he cautioned, pointing out that collective efforts to launch credible negotiations yielded no progress. Neither was there progress on intra-Palestinian reconciliation efforts, with Hamas deciding in December to sentence six people to death, including a woman, he recalled, noting also international efforts to distinguish, in all dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and Israeli activities in occupied territories.

Following that briefing, Council members took the floor, with most seconding the Special Coordinator’s concern over the lack of momentum towards a two-State solution and the non-implementation of resolution 2334 (2016). Many cited Israel’s continuation of settlement activity as impeding the resumption of the peace process. Several speakers also expressed regret over the absence of a written report on the implementation of resolution 2334 (2016). Some delegations called for international action to advance its implementation, with France’s representative advancing the European Union’s decision on differentiating between Israeli activity on its own territory and its activity in occupied areas. He described that decision as a model for best practices which others should emulate. Most speakers also condemned attacks against civilians and called for mitigation of the humanitarian situation in Gaza, for an end to incitement and for progress on intra-Palestinian reconciliation.

The representative of the United States maintained that biased resolutions on the conflict sent a loud message that Palestinians might be able to achieve their goals by relying on the United Nations rather than through direct negotiations, leading Israelis to distrust the Organization. In the effort to find a new way forward, the United States is proposing a new strategy that recognizes the potential of modern technology and the changing realities on the ground, she said. While Israelis and Palestinians will ultimately decide on the compromises they are willing to make, all Member States will also face a choice, she emphasized. They can focus on the elements of the plan with which they disagree – and remain stuck in the challenges of the past – or support forward motion.

Some delegations welcomed the United States announcement, signalling willingness to consider the proposed plan in the effort to foster negotiations towards a just and lasting peace, while reaffirming the importance of the two-State formula. Equatorial Guinea’s representative expressed hope that the proposed plan represents a fair strategy that can gain international support.

On the other hand, the Russian Federation’s representative expressed regret over attempts to re-write previous Council resolutions, noting that progress on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations remains remote amid widespread mistrust and increasing expressions of hawkish sentiments and inflammatory rhetoric. Implementing the Middle East Quartet’s 2016 recommendations can help to address factors including settlement activities, he said, emphasizing that all efforts taken must dovetail with steps to rebuild Palestinian unity. Strongly rejecting all violence and continued illegal settlement activities, he reiterated his delegation’s offer to host a summit for negotiations among the parties.

Also speaking today were representatives of Kuwait, Sweden, United Kingdom, China, Kazakhstan, Poland, Netherlands, Ethiopia, Bolivia, Peru and Côte d’Ivoire.

The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and ended at 12:23 p.m.

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