Security Council: 1) The situation concerning Iraq, 8780th meeting 2) Consideration of draft report of the Security Council to the General Assembly, 8781st meeting 3) The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, 8782nd meeting

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27-May-2021 03:14:35
Security Council extends mandate of United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, unanimously adopting resolution 2576 (2021).

Security Council adopts 2020 annual report to General Assembly.

Lack of political horizon on Palestinian, Israeli conflict ‘kills Hope’h, gives room for those not interested in peace, Special Coordinator tells Security Council.

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The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) until 27 May 2022, deciding to provide a strengthened United Nations team in advance of the country’s election, to monitor election day and to continue to assist with the vote.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2576 (2021), the Council requested the Secretary-General to provide a detailed summary report on the electoral process and the Mission’s assistance to it, no later than 30 days after the conclusion of the election.

By other terms, the Council decided that the Mission and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General shall prioritize the provision of advice, support, and assistance to the Government and people of Iraq on advancing inclusive, political dialogue, and national and community-level reconciliation, taking into account civil society input with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women.

Further terms directed the Mission to promote, support, and facilitate, in coordination with the Government of Iraq, the delivery of humanitarian and medical assistance, notably to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the safe, timely, orderly, voluntary and dignified return or local integration, as appropriate, of refugees and displaced persons.

The Council had previously decided on 29 May 2020 to extend UNAMI’s mandate for one year through resolution 2522 (2020). (See Press Release SC/14200.)

Prior to the adoption, Vassily A. Nebenzia (Russian Federation) conducted a short ceremony to hand over a plaque commemorating the use of plexiglass partitions during the COVID-19 lockdown and the return of the Council to in-person meetings in the chamber.

Responding, Atul Khare, Under Secretary-General for Operational Support, expressed gratitude to the representative of the Russian Federation, adding that the Organization is committed to the safety of all delegates and staff. The partitions provided by the Russian Federation, along with the wearing of masks and other measures, enable the Organization to meet this goal, he said.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 10:15 a.m.

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The Security Council adopted its annual report to the General Assembly today, covering the period from 1 January to 31 December 2020.

Abdou Abarry, (Niger), whose delegation coordinated the report’s introduction, thanked all delegates for their cooperation and highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on the Council’s work in 2020. Due to the pandemic, the Council implemented virtual and hybrid meetings in order to effectively discharge its responsibilities. The draft annual report summarizes the decisions taken and working methods employed, he said, calling it “the fruit of our collective efforts” which will provide Member States and other stakeholders with useful information.

By the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council is tasked with submitting an annual report to the General Assembly that contains a summary of its work and the activities of its subsidiary bodies, including counter-terrorism committees, sanctions committees, working groups and international tribunals it has established.

The Council unanimously adopted the report, which will be reflected in a note by the President, to be issued as document S/2021/500.

The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 10:20 a.m.

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While the 21 May ceasefire is holding, Council members heard today that, following eleven days of the most intense hostilities in years, the 15-member organ must take concrete action to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine, breaking the vicious cycle of disregarded resolutions and recurring violence and transcending the hollow peace process that has failed civilians on both sides.

“This is not the first time we are witnessing the end of a war in Gaza,” observed Tor Wennesland, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, as he briefed delegates in the Council Chamber via videoconference. And, each time, it is civilians who suffer most. Escalating tensions between Palestinians and Israelis erupted into hostilities between 10 May and 21 May, during which 253 Palestinians were killed by 1,500-plus Israeli air strikes while nine Israelis and three foreign nationals were killed by the 4,000-plus rockets launched by Hamas and other militants from Gaza. Further, nearly 2,000 housing and commercial units in at least 258 buildings were destroyed and 112,000 people were displaced.

Despite ongoing relief efforts, he said that the health system in Gaza “will likely be unable to meet the needs of those injured during the violence”. Mass destruction of civilian infrastructure and displacement of civilians has joined with a sharp increase in clashes and violence to exacerbate the humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and he urged Israel to exercise maximum restraint and cease demolition and seizures of Palestinian property.

He called on the international community to end the violence, address its humanitarian consequences and avoid repeating these events through a viable two-State solution that ends the occupation, as a lack of a political horizon after decades of conflict “kills hope and provides space for those not interested in sustainable peace”.

Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), echoed this warning on the death of hope as he next briefed the Council. Despair is spreading in Palestinian refugee camps beyond the Occupied Palestinian Territory — especially among the youth — and relentless air strikes and rocket attacks have inflicted psychosocial trauma on civilians in Gaza. He recounted stories of loss from the recent conflict, where parents were forced to ask whether their children should sleep next to them as they decided if the family should die together or scatter so some would be saved.

Despite the lack of any humanitarian truce to provide emergency medical assistance to the wounded or relief to the displaced, he said UNRWA worked on the front lines during the recent violence. The Agency also brings a sense of normality into the lives of refugees. He called for predictable, sufficient funding to allow for adequate planning and delivery of services, adding that an UNRWA education is an antidote to the hatred and intolerance spreading in the region. He also urged the international community to break the Sisyphean approach of post-conflict response in Gaza through genuine efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Such efforts, stressed Rashid Khalidi, Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, must not result in the “dead letters” of Council resolutions on the Palestine problem that have been systematically disrespected since the founding of the United Nations. Any effort to achieve real peace must “belatedly grapple with core issues”, including the dispossession of the Palestinian people, the status of Jerusalem, and the supposedly temporary military occupation that has endured since 1967. While acknowledging that realpolitik concerns have shaped the international response to this conflict — leading to recurring impunity for violations of international law — he expressed hope that the recent crisis leads the Council to break the cycle of the United Nations failure to prevent further war, displacement and misery in Palestine.

“Please don’t ask us to be patient,” urged the permanent observer for the State of Palestine, describing the battle for existence taking place in Palestine. While reconstruction of the besieged Gaza Strip is important, what the Palestinian people truly need is for the Council to address the root cause of occupation and lift the blockade preventing the freedom of movement of people and goods. The deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the occupied State of Palestine is Israel’s making, he stressed, but “Israel has failed in defeating Palestinian consciousness.”

Israel’s representative stressed, however, that the people of Palestine “are not our enemy”. Rather, the conflict is between Israel and Hamas, with whom full responsibility for the recent escalation lies. Israel responded to Hamas’s firing of 4,300 rockets at civilians in Israeli cities by targeting over 1,500 terror assets in Gaza and “did everything in our power” to limit civilian casualties. She urged that failure to condemn Hamas’s actions encourages terrorism, antisemitism, hurts Palestinians living in Gaza and inhibits the chance for dialogue, as “there is nothing to discuss with a terrorist organization”.

Council members then took the floor to call for the immediate provision of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza and for increased support for UNRWA. Many stressed the need to build on the recent ceasefire towards a sustainable two-State solution, and for all parties to refrain from provocative activities that could jeopardize this arrangement. Others echoed the sentiment, expressed by some of the briefers at the meeting’s outset, that the Council must strengthen its efforts towards resolving this recurring conflict.

The representative of Ireland said the weakness of the Council’s response has demonstrated the difficulty of charting a political path towards peace. She stressed that the Council must urge the parties to make serious efforts towards credible negotiations to end the cycle of violence and bloodshed. Both sides must investigate alleged violations of international law and address the causes of conflict.

These root causes, said Mexico’s representative, must be addressed for the violence to end. The ceasefire agreement is fragile, and clashes in Jerusalem have not ceased at all. While temporary truces help, the only way to achieve lasting peace is to fully implement the two-State solution, meeting the legitimate security needs of Israel and the political aspirations of the Palestinian people.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting the Muslim ummah’s sensitivity to events occurring in East Jerusalem, also stressed that core issues must be resolved to have lasting peace in the region. Just because the fighting has ceased in Palestine and Israel does not mean that the international community can delay resolving the Palestinian question, which is a key issue for the entire Middle East and the world as a whole.

Also speaking were the representatives of the United States, France, Kenya, Norway, Viet Nam, United Kingdom, Tunisia, India, Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and China.

The meeting began at 10:24 a.m. and ended at 1:18 p.m.

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