8604th Security Council Meeting: Situation in Middle East

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27-Aug-2019 01:35:17
Rising violence, settlement expansion continue to spark Israeli-Palestinian tensions as talks remain stalled, top official tells Security Council at 8604th meeting.

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Scattered violence, rising death and injury tolls, and the ongoing construction of settlements in occupied territory continue against a backdrop of stalled negotiations on how to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process told the Security Council today.

“Tangible steps can and must be taken to reverse the negative trajectory of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict urgently,” he said by videoconference from Jerusalem. Indeed, a two-State solution is in jeopardy due to chronic violence and violations of human rights, from attacks on civilians to the tensions at Jerusalem’s holy sites. He emphasized that the resultant explosive mix can only be resolved by leadership willing and capable of returning to the table for meaningful negotiations towards a sustainable and just peace.

He went on to stress that the peace process has reached a complete political deadlock, despite a temporary agreement on the transfer of tax revenues from Israel to the Palestinian Authority and a project intended to provide drinking water for 200,000 people in the Gaza Strip while preventing a crisis in the enclave’s health sector. As such, the United Nations remains committed to supporting the efforts of Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict on the basis of international law, relevant United Nations resolutions and previous agreements, he said, evoking the vision of Israel and Palestine as two States living side by side in peace and security.

Many Council members agreed that the deficit in trust between Israelis and Palestinians arose from such actions as targeted attacks against civilians by Palestinian militants and Israel’s ever-expanding settlement construction, in violation of Council resolutions and international law, citing more than 2,000 new housing units planned for the West Bank. At the same time, the demolition of Palestinian property and the eviction of their owners are ongoing amid Israel’s continuing aggression, said Kuwait’s representative, adding that daily violence against Palestinians has reached unprecedented levels.

Indeed, many Council members condemned recent violence and expressed support for a two-State solution. However, Equatorial Guinea’s representative pointed out that Council unity is absent on key issues. In fact, the 70-year-old Israeli‑Palestinian conflict reflects the absence of a definitive political solution, raising questions about its destabilizing effects across the Middle East and calling the Council’s role and responsibility into question, he added.

South Africa’s representative echoed that point, declaring: “If the Council cannot uphold its own decisions, it begins to lose its effectiveness of purpose.” Côte d’Ivoire’s representative said the absence of a viable consultation framework has led to further violence and a deficit in trust between the two sides. She urged Council members to settle their differences and work together.

The Russian Federation’s representative said no solution will ever emerge from unilateral action, stressing that the only way forward is to pool regional and international efforts. Destroying all that has been achieved to date is fraught with terrible consequences for the entire Middle East, he added, reiterating his country’s offer to host meetings between Israel and Palestine with no preconditions.

Condemning all violence, the Dominican Republic’s representative said Hamas and Palestinian Jihad must end the targeting of civilians. As for the dire conditions in Gaza, she emphasized the critical need to ensure predictable funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), while recalling that Switzerland, Belgium and other countries suspended their funding to that entity after reports about the involvement of a director in inappropriate sexual conduct and abuse of authority.

Also speaking today were the Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the President of Poland, as well as representatives of the United States, China, France, Belgium, Peru, United Kingdom, Indonesia and Germany.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 11:37 a.m.

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