Palestinian question - 8706th Security Council Meeting - Part 1

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21-Jan-2020 03:05:06
Illegal settlement growth, widespread hopelessness among youth eroding Middle East peace prospects, Under-Secretary-General tells Security Council.

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Negative trends continue to undermine prospects for a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs told the Security Council today, citing a deadlocked political process, illegal settlement expansion and a pervasive hopelessness among young people that peace will ever be achieved.

Rosemary DiCarlo said that a recent survey found that 65 per cent of Israeli millennials thought the conflict would “never end”, making them the least optimistic people surveyed in countries affected by war. Palestinians were not far behind, with 52 per cent holding that view.

She more broadly described the threat of annexation in the West Bank, as Israel plans 1,900 settlements in Area C and announced tenders for 2,200 units, both there and in East Jerusalem. Plans in two other locations that were regularized in 2019 were also advanced, while an interministerial committee tasked with discussing annexation of the Jordan Valley held its first meeting on 5 January.

If implemented, these declarations would be the first of their kind since the Oslo Accords, she said, a devastating blow to the two-State solution. “I would like to emphasize the continued urgency of resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements”, she asserted.

For its part, the United Nations is engaged with all Palestinian factions on the need for long-overdue legislative and presidential elections. Turning to Lebanon, she said that violent incidents between protesters and security forces raises very serious concerns, especially as the demonstrations have been largely peaceful.

Also briefing the Council, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ursula Mueller said that half the population in the West Bank and Gaza — 2.4 million people — will need aid in 2020. Operating space for humanitarian efforts is constrained by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities, thwarting the ability to protect and assist people at a time of record-low funding.

She encouraged States to support interventions that strengthen humanitarian-development collaboration and reduce Palestinian reliance on aid. “Ultimately, the solution for the occupied Palestinian territory is neither humanitarian nor development action, but lies in political discourse and agreement”, she said.

In the ensuing debate, the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine said that Israel continues to exploit the Council’s paralysis. Gaza is moving closer to the United Nations country team’s projections of becoming uninhabitable this year if the blockade and military aggressions continue. Israel’s leaders threaten to demolish Palestinian towns — even after the International Criminal Court announced its intention to investigate war crimes committed in Palestine. “It is past time to end the double standard that has allowed such sheer impunity by Israel,” he said.

Jordan’s delegate likewise denounced Israel’s new conditions in East Jerusalem and ongoing settlement policies. Jordan will continue to support the maintenance and care of the holy sites, she assured.

Israel’s delegate meanwhile cast a light on Iran’s funding of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, stressing that the regime remains the biggest threat to peace in the region. He advocated for more pressure in the form of new sanctions as the only way to keep the Iranian people safe.

Elsewhere in the region, Syria’s delegate blamed United States recognition of Israel’s presence in the Syrian Golan for further inflaming tensions, stressing that no party has the authority to determine the fate of territories that are part of Syria and occupied Palestine. He called on Israel to return confiscated lands in the occupied Syrian Golan based on June 1967 borders.

Settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict depends on addressing the agreed terms, said France’s representative, and ensuring that Jerusalem is the capital of the two States. A solution devoid of such parameters cannot deliver peace.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, Belgium, Germany, Niger, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Estonia, Indonesia, South Africa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, China, Dominican Republic, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Norway and Peru.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and was suspended at 1:11 p.m.

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