The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question - Security Council, 9077th Meeting

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27-Jun-2022 01:28:03
All parties must act now to lower tensions, reverse negative trends undermining prospect of two-state solution, Middle East coordinator tells Security Council.

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Security Council members today expressed their alarm with the escalating tensions and violence plaguing the occupied Palestinian territories as a top United Nations envoy laid out the troubling trends that are undermining prospects for a peaceful two-State resolution of the conflict.

Tor Wennesland, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, speaking via video teleconference, told Council members it is crucial that all parties act immediately to lower tensions and reverse the negative trends undermining the outcome of a two-State solution, with a contiguous, independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian State. This means actions to defuse the crises and maintain calm, as well as intensified efforts to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and support a broader strategy. This strategy means collective efforts by the parties and the international community to create a two-State reality. In his briefing, Mr. Wennesland highlighted material from the Secretary-General’s report, which covers the period between 19 March and 16 June, as well as developments since the reporting period ended.

He said he is alarmed over the levels of violence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel over the past months. Regarding the implementation of resolution 2334 (2016) during the reporting period, he said the Israeli settlement‑expansion in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, remains deeply troubling and flagrantly violates United Nations resolutions and international law. It undermines the prospect of achieving a two-State solution by systematically eroding the possibility of establishing a contiguous, independent, viable and sovereign Palestinian State.

He called on the Israeli Government to immediately cease the advancement of all settlement activity and end the demolition and seizure of Palestinian-owned property. He expressed concern over the potential implications of the Israeli High Court’s ruling on Masafar Yatta and the humanitarian toll on the communities in question if eviction orders are enforced. He called on Israel to end the demolition and seizure of Palestinian-owned property and prevent the possible displacement and eviction of Palestinians, in line with its obligations.

The delegate of the United States said the tension on the ground is palpable and dangerous. Expressing outrage over terrorist attacks against Israel and rocket fire from Gaza, he also condemned settler violence against Palestinians, noting that more than 1,000 Palestinians have been injured by live ammunition fired by Israeli forces in 2021 — seven times the number in 2020. He urged that upcoming evictions do not take place and called on all parties to refrain from unilateral actions. He noted the upcoming visit by United States President Joseph R. Biden to the region and expressed strong support for a two-State solution.

The representative of China noted Israel’s plan to advance 4,000 housing units and threaten the eviction of 1,200 Palestinians. He stressed that settlements violate the right to self-determination and preclude a geographically contiguous independent Palestinian State, making it even harder to achieve a two‑State solution. He urged Israel to stop flouting resolution 2334 (2016) and condemned violence carried out by Israeli security forces and settlers.

The representative of Kenya called for accountability to combat the continuing wave of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Hamas, the Palestinian Jihad and other militant groups in Israel. He also called for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians that have tragically claimed both Israeli and Palestinian lives. While quarterly Secretariat reports are essential to keep the Council informed, they should also lay out broader trends and give a sober analysis of the implications of the realities on the ground — including the prospects for a two-State solution. Reports should present clear objectives, timelines and feasible solutions to resolving pending issues. Ending the conflict requires the political will of both Israeli and Palestinian authorities to succeed.

Several Council members urged the international community to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The United Kingdom’s delegate said that during a recent visit to the region, his country’s Minister of State for Asia and the Middle East observed first hand the Agency’s vital work, which maintains a crucial role in extending assistance to the area. This week, the United Kingdom announced it multi-year funding arrangement and has provided £50 million to the Agency. He called on all donors to provide predictable multi-year funding. The international community cannot ignore the conflict’s toll on the people of Gaza and its significant impact on their living standards, he said, urging all parties, backed by the international community, to move back to dialogue.

India’s delegate, noting the increased work permits for Palestinians from Gaza to work in Israel, said more efforts are needed to ease the humanitarian situation. That includes dialogue among relevant stakeholders and steps to address the precarious situation of UNRWA. India is committed to support the Agency and provided $20 million over the last four years while pledging $5 million for 2022. He also called for direct negotiations between the parties, recognizing Palestine’s legitimate aspirations to Statehood and Israel’s legitimate security concerns.

Brazil’s delegate also expressed concerned with the Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis and said a broad political process cannot thrive without appropriate economic conditions. Coordinated international assistance is an integral part of efforts for peace and stability and is equally important to correct the structural impediments facing the Palestinian economy. Support is needed to strengthen the economy’s industrial and agriculture production. Joining other speakers in lamenting UNRWA’s chronic lack of funding, he noted Brazil’s recent announcement of additional funds and commended Palestine’s Central Election Commission for successfully concluding the voting processes for local councils.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Gabon, France, Russian Federation, Ghana, Norway, Ireland, Mexico, United Arab Emirates and Albania.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:33 a.m.

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