Israeli-Palestinian Conflict ‘Locked in a Dangerous Paralysis’, Under-Secretary-General Warns Security Council, Urging Political Will, Leadership to Change Course

Tangible steps are urgently needed to reverse a negative trajectory in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs told the Security Council today, urging Member States to do all they can to create the circumstances for advancing peace.

Opening the Council’s quarterly open debate on the situation in the Middle East, in which 47 speakers participated, Rosemary DiCarlo said the Israeli Palestinian conflict remains locked in a dangerous paralysis that is fuelling extremism and exacerbating tensions. There is a growing risk of more unilateral actions and the loss of hope that peace can be achieved through negotiations.

However, she said, such an outcome is not inevitable if there is leadership, political will and determination to make progress. We must work together to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table in order to resolve the conflict on the basis of international law, relevant United Nations resolutions and previous agreements, she said.

The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that, after more than 52 years, it is past high time to redress a colonial foreign occupation that is rapidly mutating into apartheid. Like many speakers, he put a spotlight on the 22 July demolition of 10 residential buildings in Wadi al-Hummus, a neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, saying it not only constituted a gross violation of the fourth Geneva Convention and the 2004 International Court of Justice advisory opinion, but also a war crime under the Rome Statute.

The representative of Israel focused his remarks on Iran, saying Tehran’s regime is financing terrorism and bolstering its proxies to commit vicious crimes while also pursuing nuclear weapons with the sole goal of destroying Israel. We have a duty to preserve the forces of order by confronting the forces of chaos, he said, adding that, in Lebanon, Hizbullah � with inspiration, funding and weapons provided by Iran � has further entrenched itself in the fight against Israel.

The representative of the United States said that, pending the release of President Donald J. Trump’s long-awaited blueprint for peace, it is time to put tired rhetoric aside. There is no international consensus and those who keep calling for it are doing nothing to encourage the parties to negotiate and make hard compromises. His country’s vision for peace will not be ambiguous, he said, but it will contain sufficient detail so that people can see what compromises will be necessary. I ask all of you to reserve judgment until we publish, and you read, the 60 or so pages that detail what peace could look like, he added.

His counterpart from the Russian Federation said tensions in the Gulf could further destabilize the region, creating the risk of an armed confrontation. Urging an end to abandon sanctions and threats, he recommended sending a Council mission to the region to help create conditions for a viable settlement. He also rejected the monopolization of political and diplomatic efforts, saying unilateral measures cannot supplant previously agreed upon positions.

Lebanon’s delegate said that, if her Israeli counterpart meant to prepare the ground for an attack of her country’s civilian port, airport and infrastructure with his remarks, then the Council should uphold its responsibility to prevent Israel from launching another war on her nation. The last thing the region needs is another war, she said, adding that Israel is carrying out daily violations of Lebanese territory by land, air and sea.

Syria’s representative called the Israeli occupation the greatest challenge to international law and the Charter of the United Nations, yet it appeared that some would rather discuss issues, such as Iran, that have nothing to do with overcoming that situation. He went on to express regret that the Under-Secretary-General did not refer to the Syrian Golan in her statement, including Israel’s plan to create a settlement there called Trump Heights.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Croatia said the bloc’s position � based on international law and relevant Council resolutions � remains unchanged. Calling direct negotiations an important way to resolve all permanent status issues, he said the Union stands ready to work with the United States and other Quartet partners, as well as partners in the region, in carrying out economic projects that would contribute to the two-State solution.

The Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States said it is clear Israel, in continuing its illegal occupation, is attempting to frame the situation as a political conflict. Israel and the United States have failed in their attempt to change the status quo of Jerusalem, he added. The final resolution must be the fruit of direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. Describing the Iranian threat in the Arab world as a clear and pressing one, he said that the Council must hold Tehran to account.

Iran’s delegate said the Council’s inability to end the occupation is due to the unreserved support of the United States for Israel, which has emboldened the Zionist regime to commit international crimes with impunity. The Council must end a vicious cycle of being bullied by one of its permanent members. He went on to say that the statement by Israel’s delegate was an unsuccessful attempt to distract attention from the crimes and unlawful policies of its regime.

The representative of Senegal, speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, condemned this week’s demolition of Palestinian homes and called for an end to these international law violations. Calling on donors to ensure sustainable funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he also reiterated the call on Member States to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

Also speaking today were representatives of Kuwait, Germany, South Africa, Poland, China, Belgium, CAte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, France, Indonesia, Peru, Namibia, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Uganda, Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Chile, Qatar, Malaysia, Morocco, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Turkey, Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Arab Group), Norway, Cuba, Maldives, Venezuela, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the Permanent Observer of the Holy See.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 4:18 p.m.

Briefing

ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains locked in a dangerous paralysis that is fuelling extremism and exacerbating tensions in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. There is a growing risk of more unilateral actions and the loss of hope that peace can be achieved through negotiations. However, this outcome is not inevitable if there is leadership, political will and determination to make progress. We must work together to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table in order to resolve the conflict on the basis of international law, relevant United Nations resolutions and previous agreements, she said.

With no prospect of viable negotiations on the horizon, facts on the ground continue to undermine the chances of a two-State solution, she said, emphasizing that Israeli settlements remain a substantial obstacle to peace and a violation of international law. Demolition and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures, with 66 structures demolished or seized, mostly on the grounds of a lack of Israeli issued permits that are near-impossible for Palestinians to get. This practice must stop, she said. The demolition by Israeli on 22 July of nine buildings in the Wadi Hummus/Sur Bahir neighbourhood of East Jerusalem resulted in the displacement of 24 Palestinians, including 14 children, while affecting the livelihoods of some 300 people. Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian property is incompatible with its obligations under international humanitarian law and contributes to the risk of forcible transfer faced by many Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, she said, citing also the demolition of Palestinian-owned structures in Bethlehem on 27 June and the eviction of a Palestinian family from an East Jerusalem neighbourhood on 10 July after a court ruling in favour of an Israeli organization that majority-owned the building.

She reported a reduction of violence in Gaza in the past month, while protests at the perimeter fence have continued, with one Palestinian killed by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and 736 injured. Fewer incendiary balloons and kites have been launched by Hamas and other Palestinian militants, while only two rockets were fired during the reporting period, she said, calling on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to cease the launching of rockets and mortars towards Israeli civilians. However, in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, violent incidents have continued, she said, citing clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, as well as settler-related violence and the ramming of a Palestinian-driven vehicle into a group of IDF personnel on 6 July. Condemning all attacks on Palestinian and Israeli civilians, she called on all sides to refrain from violence and for perpetrators to be held accountable for their acts.

Returning to the situation in Gaza, she said the United Nations is working closely with Egypt to mediate and de-escalate tensions. While those joint efforts are starting to bear fruit, she said she remains deeply concerned by the humanitarian, economic and political situation. In line with agreed understandings, the United Nations is speeding up the implementation of the September 2018 and April 2019 Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for the Occupied Territories packages. Job creation efforts through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) have created some 9,000 job opportunities, including around 3,000 for women. The current calm must be sustained in order to gradually introduce longer-term interventions that will support Gaza’s sustainable development, she said, emphasizing, however, that the root of the territory’s problems remain political and calling on all Palestinian factions to take concrete steps towards its reunification with the West Bank under a single, democratic and legitimate national government.

On the Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis, she said no solution has yet been found. For the fifth straight month, the Palestinian Government has refused to receive Israel’s partial transfer of tax revenues owed to it. With the Palestinian economy increasingly showing signs of decline, she called on both sides to ensure compliance with the Paris Protocol on Economic Relations. In the meantime, temporary measures must be adopted to address the fiscal crisis, she said, encouraging Israel and the Palestinian Authority to work together to find solutions. She noted the Peace to Prosperity economic workshop that took place in Bahrain on 25 and 26 June, adding that humanitarian and economic support for the Palestinian population is crucial to creating an environment crucial to viable negotiations followed by a comprehensive peace agreement.

Emphasizing the severity of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the urgent need for tangible steps to reverse a negative trajectory, she said the circumstances for advancing peace will hardly ever be ideal. But, let us do our utmost with conviction, hope and creativity to support the creation of those circumstances, she said, emphasizing the Organization’s ongoing commitment to support Palestinians and Israeli efforts to end the conflict and realize the vision of two States living side by side in peace and security.

Statements

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that, time and again, his delegation has implored the Council to salvage peace prospects, convinced that such action, in line with international law, is the only way to end the suffering. Respect for human rights and justice is the only way forward. Those who would tell us otherwise are setting us up for decades more of suffering, he insisted. After more than 52 years, it is past high time to redress a colonial foreign occupation that is rapidly mutating into apartheid, he said, stressing that the demolition of 10 residential buildings in Wadi al-Hummus not only constitutes a gross violation of the fourth Geneva Convention and the 2004 International Court of Justice advisory opinion, but is also a war crime under the Rome Statute.

For the displaced families, the anguish is immense, he said. Israel’s Supreme Court of Justice has assumed rights not entitled to it as a way to strip people of their legitimate land and property rights. This is a blatant act of ethnic cleansing and forced transfer, he said, as Israel is not sovereign over the area; nor is it sovereign in any part of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. This includes East Jerusalem. Israel must be held accountable, both for the crimes and the reparations, and the State of Palestine will explore every avenue to end impunity for them, including the illegal land grab. He questioned whether this reality constituted the better life of which the United States Administration spoke, or the future touted by the so-called Peace to Prosperity workshop convened in June. How can such dispossession, as was done to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians before them, foster any belief that peace and coexistence are possible?, he asked.

The Palestinian people will remain, he said. The global consensus on their right to self-determination and on the parameters of a just solution is strong. At every juncture, calls are made to achieve the two-State solution based on the 1967 borders, in line with international law, United Nations resolutions, the Madrid land for peace principle, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Middle East Quartet road map. Equally strong are appeals for ending the occupation and realizing an independent, sovereignty State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living alongside Israel with secure and recognized borders. There must be accountability. All political and legal tools, including court prosecutions and sanctions, must be pursued. The Council must compel a halt to the occupation’s crimes, protect civilians and salvage the chances for a just peace. States must also act, individually and collectively, adhering to relevant resolutions and not recognizing or rendering aid to this illegal situation.

DANNY DANON (Israel) said that, 40 years ago, in 1979, the world witnessed two historic events: one was when Israeli, Palestinian and United States leaders shook hands and agreed on a peace agreement; and the other in Iran where a radical revolution took place. Israel’s peace agreements with Jordan and Egypt have lasted decades. Meanwhile, Iran’s regime is jeopardizing the region and beyond. That regime is financing terrorism in the region, bolstering its proxies to commit vicious crimes and is pursuing nuclear weapons with the sole goal of destroying Israel. We have a duty to preserve the forces of order by confronting the forces of chaos, he said. Iran’s regime seeks to dominate the world and use violence and terrorism to achieve its goals. When Ayatollah Khomeini took power in 1979, he clearly stated that his objective was to export the revolution abroad.

The Iranian force of chaos has caused infestation in Lebanon, he continued. Hizbullah, with inspiration, funding and weapons provided by Iran, has further entrenched itself in the fight against Israel. It is unfortunate that some have chosen to turn a blind eye to the reality on the ground, he said, stressing that that with every passing day, it is harder and harder to tell where Beirut ends and Tehran begins. The call for an arms embargo has been completely ignored. Iran is transferring weapons through civilian airports and ports. The port of Beirut is now the port of Hizbullah, he said, adding that weapons are easily smuggled into the country. Every Member State must ask itself the same question: Are you sure that your companies are not selling dual use equipment to Hizbullah?

Iran’s regime has continued to pursue nuclear weapons, threatening the entire Western Hemisphere, he said. To the countries that still support the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action, what will you do when Iran gets a nuclear weapon? After years of war, Israel and its Arab neighbours have found something to agree upon: both sides are committed to fighting the Iranian threat and confronting the forces of chaos, terrorism and extremism. We must come together once more to confront the threat to peace: all leading back to the regime of Iran, he added.

JASON D. GREENBLATT (United States), describing the recent Peace for Prosperity workshop in Bahrain as very successful, acknowledged that many Council members are frustrated that President Donald J. Trump’s Administration has not yet detailed its vision for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hopefully, the President will decide soon when to release it, but in the meantime, it is time to put tired rhetoric aside. International consensus might work from time to time, but in the case of this conflict, there is no consensus, and those that keep calling for consensus are doing nothing to encourage the parties to negotiate and make hard compromises. He recalled that the United Nations failed to build an international consensus behind the fact that Hamas is a terrorist organization or that the Palestinian Authority uses public funds to reward terrorism and the murder of Israelis. International consensus is not international law, so let’s stop kidding ourselves, he said. Nor is the conflict going to be resolved by reference to international law when such law is inconclusive, or by constantly referencing ambiguous United Nations resolutions.

Only direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine can resolve the issue of Jerusalem, if it can be resolved, he said, adding that those who weaponize the term occupation to criticize Israel are undermining the chances for peace. Land claims can only be resolved through direct negotiations. He called on the leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority to put aside blanket rejections of a plan they have not even seen and to demonstrate a willingness to engage in good faith in dialogue with Israel. He called on Council members and those wishing to help Israelis and Palestinians to achieve a comprehensive peace agreement to encourage the parties back to the table. The United States vision for peace will not be ambiguous, but it will contain sufficient detail so that people can see what compromises will be necessary. I ask all of you to reserve judgment until we publish, and you read, the 60 or so pages that detail what peace could look like, he said.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), referring to the 22 July demolitions in Wadi Hummus, attributed the deterioration of the situation in the occupied territories to an absence of accountability for Israel’s actions. Such a state of affairs has emboldened Israel to continue its expansionist settler activities and provocative behaviour that prolongs the occupation and undermines prospects for the two-State solution. Describing the humanitarian situation in Gaza as precarious, he said Israeli authorities are riding roughshod over its responsibilities as an occupying Power. Kuwait will remain on the list of main donors to UNRWA, having contributed $113 million over the past four years. Rejecting suggestions that Palestinians are not subject to international rights and norms, he said the Council has an obligation to implement its resolutions.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by Croatia for the European Union, said the Council is basically turning in circles. Emphasizing his country’s support for the United Nations, he said he fully subscribed to what the Under-Secretary-General said, particularly regarding the negative trajectory. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a political conflict that can only be resolved through a political solution, he said, reaffirming Germany’s support for the two-State solution based on international parameters and Council resolutions. Turning to the representative of the United States, he said that, for Germany, international law is relevant, not futile. Germany believes in the United Nations and in Council resolutions, which are binding international law, he said, adding that resolution 2334 (2016) on Israeli settlements was the result of international consensus led by the United States. He said Germany participated in the Bahrain workshop because of its interest in sensible measures that promote peace and boost the economy. However, prosperity will be elusive if it is not firmly embedded in a political framework. He called on Israel to halt settlement activity, condemned attacks on Israel by Hamas and other groups and described UNWRA as indispensable for meeting the basic needs of Palestinian refugees.

XOLISA MFUNDISO MABHONGO (South Africa) said that, since 2009, over 6,100 Palestinian structures have been demolished displacing over 9,400 people. South Africa is particularly alarmed at the continuing excavation of land beneath the Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. Such actions by the Israeli Government cannot be tolerated, he stressed, calling on the Council to uphold its United Nations Charter-mandated responsibilities and act. Military checkpoints and the illegal separation wall have resulted in limited trade between Palestine and other countries, which has reduced Palestinian employment opportunities. All of which have detrimental impacts on both the social and economic welfare and future of the youth, he said. An increasing number of young Palestinians are retreating from political involvement. At the same time, the Palestinian youth have positioned themselves at the forefront of the ongoing Great March of Return where they have staged regular non-violent protests along the Gaza border, even whilst bearing the brunt of a violent and disproportionate Israeli response that has led to the death of more than 200 unarmed demonstrators. He underscored the role of UNRWA in improving the lives of Palestinians and particularly the youth.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said recent tensions in the Gulf jeopardize further destabilizing the Middle East and create the risk of an armed confrontation. We urge all stakeholders to resolve issues politically and diplomatically, he said, stressing the need to abandon sanctions and threats. He called on both Israeli and Palestinian sides to take proactive action along with the support of the international community to address the dire situation in the Gaza Strip. A Security Council mission must be dispatched to the region to help create conditions for a viable settlement to the conflict. He reaffirmed that international consensus is international law because Council resolutions are international law. The matter lies not with a lack of international consensus, but rather with the disregard of international consensus. We reject the process of monopolization of political and diplomatic efforts, he continued. No unilateral measures could supplant previously agreed upon positions. The Russian Federation will continue to support the work of UNRWA. Moscow is currently working towards a political settlement in Syria, he continued, adding that it is critical to tackle socioeconomic challenges there without any preconditions. On Libya, he said the current situation reflects the consequences of a foreign intervention, and called on all stakeholders to refrain from unilateral actions.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), associating herself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said the international community’s priority should be to restore a political horizon for a meaningful peace process to resume, leading to a two-State solution and the resolution of all final status issues. Regrettably, the situation on the ground keeps deteriorating, she said, adding: Currently we are very close to the point where the establishment of a viable Palestinian State would be difficult if not impossible. She asked Israel to abandon plans to carry out demolitions in the Palestinian villages of Khan al Ahmar and Sur Baher. She went on to underline UNRWA’s role in the region, saying it remains a key contributor of humanitarian assistance, stability and security.

WU HAITAO (China), emphasizing that the Palestinian question lies at the heart of the situation in the Middle East, said resolution 2334 (2016) on Israeli settlements should be effectively implemented. There must also be an immediate end to all actions aimed at legalizing settlements. He underscored the role of multilateralism in promoting a comprehensive, just and durable solution based on the two-State format. Any new initiatives should be in line with international law and countries with influence should work towards creating the conditions for talks to resume. Underscoring the economic and humanitarian situation in Palestine, he called on the international community to give enhanced support to UNRWA, noting that China will increase its contribution to the Agency to $1 million alongside its bilateral support to Palestinians.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said the situation is deteriorating day by day amid illegal settlement activity, forced displacements, expulsions and demolitions. Noting the demolition in early July of an Oxfam water project financed by Belgium, affecting 35 families, he called for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza and the reopening of checkpoints while also bearing Israeli security concerns in mind. He noted the economic plan set out by the United States in June, but emphasized that economic measures cannot supplant a political solution. It is past time for the parties to resume the path of dialogue, he said, emphasizing the Council’s role as guarantor of any fair and lasting settlement. Belgium believes in international law and it believes that international law must be respected, he added.

GBOLIA� DA�SIRA� WULFRAN IPO (CAte d’Ivoire) said the international community must persevere in its mediation efforts. He said his country is committed to Israel’s security, the inalienable right of the Palestinian people and the two State solution. The humanitarian situation remains a concern, he added, with youth unemployment and shortages of medicine and fuel creating vulnerabilities that can lead people to despair. Noting the $211 million deficit in UNRWA’s budget, he said the situation will deteriorate if the Agency lacks adequate financing.

JOB OBIANG ESONO MBENGONO (Equatorial Guinea) said it is unfortunate that, despite the many initiatives and financing, the United Nations and international community have been unable to achieve sustainable solutions to the problems causing conflicts in the Middle East. The future of the people of Syria, Yemen and Libya remains uncertain. Tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians have increased due to the excursions of Hamas in Gaza and Israel’s settlement activities and decision to withhold tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority. He urged both sides to refrain from unilateral action, also adding: Violence is not and will never be the way to work out this issue. The majority of Israelis and Palestinians prefer a two-State solution. Equatorial Guinea has always stood by the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions which must guide negotiations on a two-State solution. Emphasizing that the status of Jerusalem must be a result of negotiations, he said Equatorial Guinea deems the historical claims of the Palestinians to be just. But, we also believe that Israel has every right to live in peace and dignity, he added, expressing support to Egypt and United Nations efforts in the region. He also expressed support for the work of UNRWA.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said that it is crucial to improve the daily life of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza by addressing restrictions on movement and improving the water and energy supply. It is essential that political progress is made to unlock economic opportunity. The United Kingdom’s position on a two-State solution remains unchanged. We want to see increasing external trade opportunities and sustainable investments in water and energy infrastructure, she said. We need genuine and committed engagement from both parties, she continued, urging the Palestinian Authority to address claims of incitement, particularly in the education system. She further expressed concern over settlement activities, adding: Settlements are illegal and evictions of Palestinians from their homes should be condemned. The United Kingdom condemns Hamas terrorism, but also expresses concern for the excessive use of force by IDF. She commended the United Nations and Egypt for their efforts to mediate between parties. The international community must continue to support Palestinian refugees, she said, expressing full support to UNRWA in its work with refugees across the region. On Iran, she said the United Kingdom is urging Iran not to take further steps away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

SOLANGE EUNICE BLANDINO DE LOS SANTOS (Dominican Republic) commended the work of UNRWA in helping millions of Palestinian refugees. The reality is that the occupation has expanded illegally and without consequences, she added, expressing concern over the increased rates of demolitions in the West Bank. It is concerning to see the work of civil society organizations being hampered, she said, adding that the only way forward for the Palestinians and Israelis is through a two-State solution based on 1967 borders. Regarding Palestinian attacks against Israel, she condemned all types of violence and called upon Hamas and others to cease its attacks.

NICOLAS DE RIVIA�RE (France) said that the recent demolitions in the occupied territories runs counter to international law and constitute a dangerous precedent which directly imperils the two-State solution. Israel has failed to heed international calls to not carry out the demolitions. These demolitions are bringing us to the point of no return, he cautioned. France recalls that settlement activities run counter to international law set out to Security Council resolution 2334 (2016). France does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over any occupied territory. He expressed deep concern over the deteriorated humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and called on all parties to exercise utmost restraint to avoid the worst. Given these circumstances, support for UNRWA is more essential than ever. Achieving a lasting solution in Gaza requires the lifting of the blockade along with a guarantee of security for Israel. He reiterated the validity of the internationally agreed consensus on the Middle East conflict. France stands ready to support any effort that adheres to international law, specifically all Council resolutions. France supports a two-State solution and will never waiver on Israel’s security.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) reiterated the need to commit to a two State solution based on the 1967 border lines and condemned actions that undermine it. The international community must not budge an inch from this platform and position, he stressed. Condemning Israel’s illegal construction of the underground tunnel and path towards Al-Haram al-Sharif, he said that Indonesia, along with members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), have denounced this illegal action. Together with the illegal Israeli settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the construction of tunnels can also be viewed as a de facto annexation. The Council must defend the status and character of the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls, he stressed, condemning yesterday’s arrogant, illegal and inhumane pre-dawn destruction of Palestinian homes. Turning to the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, he expressed concern that Israel continues to withhold the tax revenues of the Palestinian Authority, adding that economic assistance cannot be used a substitute for the final political solution. On Syria, he urged all parties to fully respect international humanitarian law and uphold the ceasefire agreement. He also expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Yemen and stressed the importance of freedom and safety of passage in the Strait of Hormuz.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), Council President for July, speaking in his national capacity, and also condemning the Sur Baher demolitions, encouraged the international community to increase its financial contributions to address the serious humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories. Peru trusts that the global investment fund outlined in Bahrain and strengthened funding for UNRWA will contribute to that end. Easing the suffering must be accompanied by a renewed commitment to the peace process based on the two-State solution. Leaders must act responsibly, with prudence and moderation, and foster a calm dialogue that will allow the whole region to move towards sustainable peace. He also emphasized the role of the Council and those countries with real influence, calling on them to do more. He went on to note with deep concern military actions in recent weeks in the Strait of Hormuz that pose a huge threat to regional stability and international peace. All parties must act with moderation, avoid unilateral actions that could unleash conflict and return to diplomatic channels, with the Secretary-General offering his good offices to reduce tension and restore trust.

AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon), referring to accusations made by the representative of Israel, said that, if he meant to prepare the ground for an attack of her country’s civilian port, airport and infrastructure, then the Council should uphold its responsibility to prevent Israel from launching another war on her nation. The last thing the region needs is another war, she said. The dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinians is made worse by UNRWA’s funding difficulties, she said, adding that the opening shots of the much-awaited peace plan � presented in the form of an economic conference � were met with disappointment due to the lack of a political horizon. She added that Lebanon is troubled by Israel’s policy of altering the physical and demographic status of the occupied Golan Heights and called on that country to implement relevant Council resolutions and the Geneva Conventions in full. She went on to brief the Council on developments in her country, including the Cabinet’s approval of a new budget and the Prime Minister’s commitment to develop the capacities of Lebanon’s navy. She added, however, that, while Lebanon remains committed to resolution 1701 (2006), which called for a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbullah, Israel is carrying out daily violations of Lebanese territory by land, air and sea, while also continuing to build on Lebanese-occupied territories.

NEVILLE GERTZE (Namibia), reiterating that settlements are illegal, described the tense security situation and dire humanitarian conditions in Gaza in expressing deep concern about movement and access constraints against national staff from United Nations agencies in the area. Welcoming Qatar’s financial assistance, which has proven essential, and reaffirming Namibia’s support to UNRWA amid said the Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis, he urged parties to respect bilateral agreements. As was made clear at the Peace to Prosperity workshop, economic development cannot be achieved without negotiations leading to a two-State solution and he urged parties not to abandon the political process.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said the Israeli occupation represents the greatest challenge to the Charter of the United Nations and international law. It appears that some are opting to engage in discussions in issues, such as Iran, that have nothing to do with ending Israel’s occupation of Arab lands. The perpetrators are capitalizing on the Council’s inability to implement its resolutions by shifting reality, as seen when the President of the United States recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan. He expressed regret that the Under-Secretary-General did not refer to the Syrian Golan in her statement, including Israel’s plan to create a settlement there called Trump Heights. He also demanded that Israel release all Syrian citizens in its jails. He went on to say that the representative of Israel is denying the essence of the agenda item under discussion today, namely the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to self determination.

YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) underscored his country’s commitment to the two State solution, expressing deep concern about settlement activities, demolition of Palestinian homes, and more broadly, the Palestinian Authority’s withheld tax revenues. He called on parties to find a mutually agreeable solution to that issue, and while describing prospects for a political process as dim, welcomed the most recent meeting of the Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development, co-hosted by Japan in Ramallah. As lasting peace and security can only be reached through negotiations, Japan will continue to promote confidence-building measures between both sides, he said, noting also that Tokyo will continue its diplomatic efforts to ease tensions in the Strait of Hormuz.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), reiterating support for a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, encouraged parties to seek conditions conducive to resumed negotiations � along with creative diplomatic efforts with an open mind. On Syria, he expressed concern over increased violence in the north west and reiterated the need to fully respect the ceasefire. The prompt convening of the constitutional committee will be a crucial step towards an urgently needed political solution, based on parameters outlined in resolution 2254 (2015) in particular, and the Sochi Declaration. In Yemen, where the humanitarian, political and security situations are extremely fragile, he called on parties to refrain from actions that could increase hostilities, urging them to continue working with the Special Envoy towards a political solution. More broadly, he said establishing peace and national unity in Libya, alongside efforts to fight terrorism and transnational crime in the region, require an inclusive Libya-led and owned political process.

MARTA�N GARCA�A MORITA�N (Argentina) said the inter-Palestinian-Israeli peace process is at one of its lowest points amid increased violence and deteriorating humanitarian conditions, expressing support for UNRWA in that context. The truce on the Gaza border is a first step to decreasing tensions, he said, expressing support for the Palestinians’ inalienable right to self-determination, and Israel’s right to live in peace with its neighbours along secure and internationally recognized borders. He called for a halt to settlement building, per Council resolution 2334 (2016), and condemned rocket fire into Israel and violence by Hamas in Gaza. He rejected any attempt to modify Jerusalem’s special status. On the Syrian Golan, Argentina maintains its position on illegality of acquiring land by force, and in upholding the principle of peaceful dispute resolution, calls for a negotiated end to the situation. Regarding Syria, he expressed support for a political solution through dialogue and diplomacy, and concerning Yemen, pressed parties to uphold their commitments and to stem the devastating humanitarian crisis. More broadly, he condemned attacks that have taken place on Saudi Arabia and against oil tankers in the Sea of Oman and elsewhere

PHILIP ODIDA (Uganda), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and citing the 22 July events in occupied East Jerusalem, objected to Israel’s flouting of international law and mocking of the international rules based order. The Security Council has a direct responsibility to put an end to this culture of impunity, he asserted, drawing attention to the organization’s Executive Committee Extraordinary Open Ended Meeting on 17 July, where ministers expressed grave concern over Israel’s unlawful attempts to alter the historical, political and legal status and demographic composition of occupied East Jerusalem. He called on the Council to uphold its Charter responsibilities towards the Palestinian question, citing Council resolution 2334 (2016) in that context, and calling Israel’s withholding of Palestinian tax revenues an illegal decision, an act of piracy and a form of collective punishment. The lack of deterrent measures has only emboldened Israel to pursue such illegal acts, he insisted, stressing that economic empowerment should not overshadow the core cause of their plight. For justice, an internationally sponsored political process, based on United Nations resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, must be launched with a view to ending Israel’s occupation and enabling Palestinians to establish an independent State on the territory occupied since 1967.

MUHAMMAD ZULQARNAIN (Pakistan) said that, with every settlement built, the unchecked occupier is emboldened to unwind the viability of the two-State solution, and a modern tragedy plays out in Gaza due to the illegal blockade against Palestinians. He reiterated the need for a Palestinian State along 1967 borders with Al-Quds Al Sharif as capital as the only solution for resolving the situation. Enhanced contributions to UNRWA have been an endorsement of the Agency’s critical role as a beacon of hope for Palestinian refugees across the region, noting that Pakistan made its contribution for 2019. As the international community works to de escalate tensions in Yemen and advance a political process in Syria, he supported negotiated political settlements based on international frameworks and achieved through inclusive engagement. The international community cannot abandon Palestinians in their quest for self-determination.

TAREK FATHI MOHAMED MOHAMED TAYEL (Egypt), describing a fall in international ambition to end the occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories that would allow Palestinians to live in an independent State, said the solutions are known. The two-State solution allows Palestinians to live along 1967 borders and has provisions relating to Jerusalem. However, there has been a lack of genuine political will, which has led to a fog over the horizon of the political process. We are not imposing solutions on the parties, he said, nor rehashing theoretical positions. Rather, settlement must be immediate as the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate. This reality will not change unless international law is applied, he said, citing the Arab Peace Initiative, which continues to be ignored by authors of various resolutions, yet which provides realistic solutions, in line with international law, and responds to the realities of both Palestinians and Israelis. He called for avoiding political speculation, describing the Arab position as flexible, convinced that, if the parties demonstrate political will, it can respond to their aspirations and to those of the region.

SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan) said Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories is a source of violence that will only increase if Palestinians do not enjoy statehood with East Jerusalem as their capital. Jordan continues its custodianship over Jerusalem’s holy sites, working to maintain the Christian, Jewish and Arab status quo. Jerusalem is the basis for peace, she said, condemning Israel’s inauguration of a pilgrimage road, cautioning against illegal measures and rejecting Israel’s attempts to change the old city’s identity, which are blatant violations of international law and of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) resolutions that call for an end to Israeli excavations in the old city. She recalled that Council resolution 194 (1948) guarantees refugees’ right to return and the right to reparations, noting that, until then, UNRWA must continue to provide its services to refugees. She rejected Israel’s settlements in occupied lands, including East Jerusalem, as well as land confiscations, road building and other measures aiming to forcibly displace residents. Israel must immediately stop such practices. More broadly, she said a political solution to end the suffering in Syria is the only path forward, reiterating support for the Special Envoy.

MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile) advocated support for a two-State solution, in line with international law, noting that his country’s President last month visited Israel and Palestine for the second time, accompanied by a delegation representing Israeli and Palestinian communities from Parliament, trade and civil society. The President reiterated a desire to foster a peaceful resolution, he said, noting that Palestinian and Jewish communities have integrated into Chilean society. Citing recent agreements signed to respect the synergy between both Chile and Israel, and Chile and Palestine, he said: We believe in both nations and we hope and believe they both wish to uphold the two-State solution, a duty which the international community must help realize.

CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, condemned Israel’s 22 July demolition of Palestinian homes in Sur Bahir and called for an end to these international law violations. Indeed, the cycle of violence, dispossession, settlement expansion, evictions, demolitions and deteriorating human rights, humanitarian and economic conditions in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, continues unabated. Following the Peace to Prosperity workshop, the international community has made clear that an economic initiative for Palestinians, without a political initiative that addresses such historic injustice with fulfilment of their inalienable rights � in particular to self determination and independence � cannot succeed. The only viable solution remains based on the long-standing parameters of two States, living side by side in peace, based on pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of a State of Palestine and negotiated outcomes for all final status issues. By and large, the international community continues to uphold these parameters, as seen in recent outcomes to African Union, OIC and Non-Aligned Movement meetings, as well as during Committee visits to Brussels and Berlin, where Government and European Union interlocutors reaffirmed their strong commitment to the two-State solution. Calling on donors to ensure sustainable funding for UNRWA, he reiterated the call on Member States, in compliance with resolutions 476 (1980) and 478 (1980), to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, stressing that the sanctity and historic status quo of holy sites must be respected. He also reiterated the call to lift the illegal blockade on Gaza, and ending Israel’s withholding of Palestinian tax revenues.

VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the bloc’s position related to the Israeli-Palestinian situation remains unchanged, based on international law and relevant Council resolutions, and centred on a commitment to a just, comprehensive resolution to the conflict through a two-State solution. Its position on the well-known parameters likewise has been set out on numerous occasions, including the July 2014 Council conclusions on the Middle East peace process. Calling direct negotiations an important way to resolve all permanent status issues, he said the bloc is ready to work with the United States and other Quartet partners, as well as partners in the region, in carrying out economic projects, which will contribute to the two-State solution. Together with Norway, it will use the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee as a relevant framework, he said, stressing that all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law, and that unilateral annexation, including of existing settlements, would represent a further breach. He outlined the expectation that economic and fiscal agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will be implemented in full, pressing the Authority to accept tax transfers on a provisional basis, which would not constitute a legal or political endorsement of Israel’s decision, but rather, ensure that work to build the capacity of a future Palestinian State is not interrupted.

Expressing extreme concern about settler violence, and condemning rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, he went on to encourage the prompt setting of a date for planned elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. On Syria, he said the European Union will maintain its strong support for the United Nations-led process in Geneva and remain at the forefront of global efforts to promote accountability and justice, and to combat impunity as part of any future process of national reconciliation. It will continue to support the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Those Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes in Syria, he said, reiterating the call to refer the Syria situation to the International Criminal Court and noting that the European Union intends to host a high-level event on Syria during the high-level week of the General Assembly’s seventy-fourth session.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said a lack of unity on both sides has led to an environment of distrust, one fuelled by dangerous rhetoric and extremist ideology, which could rapidly devolve into violence throughout the region. Humanitarian and economic support, while vital, cannot replace negotiations. Political will and dialogue are required to establish the conditions for lasting peace and he pressed Member States to encourage parties, notably by offering them both space and resources to commit to negotiations. More broadly, Pope Francis expressed his profound worry to Syria’s President for the safety of civilians, especially in Idlib and called for their protection. In Yemen, where people are in grave need of food and medical attention, he asked: How can we make eloquent appeals for peace in the Middle East [] while at the same time continuing to permit the sale of arms in the region? Iraq, after unspeakable crimes by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), today offers hope as it advances reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.

MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said that the Council is meeting today to determine whether Israel is upholding the Organization’s Charter and various Security Council resolutions on the matter. However, it is clear that Israel continues its illegal occupation and is attempting to frame that as a political conflict. Israel and the United States have failed in their attempt to change the status quo of Jerusalem, he stressed. Israel is undaunted however, and continues to speak in incendiary and provocative terms, trying to stoke religious tensions. This is a flagrant violation of international law, he said, calling on the Council to take steps to prevent Israel from a perverse interpretation of religious texts. Steps should be taken to prevent Israel from violating international law. Israel is trying to impose its sovereignty over territories it has occupied since 1967. Israel refuses to recognize Security Council resolutions that claim otherwise. The final resolution must be the fruit of direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. The League calls on the Council to reiterate its full support for the status quo of Jerusalem as the home to the three monolithic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. He called on the Council to compel Israel to put an end to its war-mongering activities, including the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and their expanding settlement activities. The recent expulsion of inhabitants and the destruction of their houses is a violation of the agreed benchmarks surrounding this conflict. The Palestinian people are suffering under the yolk of Israeli oppression. We mustn’t sweep aside the rights of the Palestinian people, he said, reaffirming that any attempt to alter the status quo of Jerusalem must cease immediately. The League supports the political declaration issued by the Non-Aligned Movement. Calling the Iranian threat in the Arab world as a clear and pressing one, he said that the Council must hold Tehran to account.

JASSIM SAYAR A. J. AL-MAAWDA (Qatar) said achieving peace in the Middle East requires full commitment to international law, resolutions of the United Nations and the Arab Peace Initiative. It also requires an end to the Israeli occupation, and the full recognition of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. He condemned all settlement-building activities in the West Bank. Israel’s occupation of these territories is null and void and has no legal effect. Qatar has played a positive role in ensuring conditions for peace, and in coordination with the United Nations, to alleviate the humanitarian situation. The Gaza Strip continues to suffer from a heavy blockade, he stressed, noting his country’s $480 million donation for education and humanitarian relief. Qatar has also committed in 2019 to providing additional support to UNRWA. Doha will continue to provide humanitarian aid to Syria, as well, he continued, stressing the need to achieve a political solution that responds to the needs of the Syrian people. Turning to Libya, he expressed concern for the recent assault on Tripoli. The bombing of a migrant reception centre and the targeting of a hospital requires firm condemnation. Turning to his own country, he said the blockade against it is a flagrant violation of international law. Attempts to undermine the very existence of Qatar are well known and represent a threat to international peace and security.

DATO’SYED MOHD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia), associating himself with OIC and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, as long as Israel remains defiant and displays apathy for all the damage it has caused the Palestinian people, the international community must continue to call for the immediate reversal of negative trends on the ground. Israel must cease immediately and completely all illegal activities in the occupied territories. He condemned the continuous use of force by Israel against Palestinians in the occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He commended the initiative undertaken by OIC in convening the Open-Ended Extraordinary Meeting of the Executive Committee on the Israeli Violation in the Occupied City of Al-Quds Al-Sharif on 17 July. The construction of the tunnel not only resulted in the weakening of the structure of the Mosque, it has also left 80 Palestinian homes in Silwan damaged while dozens more are at risk of collapsing, he said. Commending the work of UNRWA, he expressed deep concern for unilateral actions of the United States, which continue to jeopardize international consensus on a two-State solution.

MOHAMMED ATLASSI (Morocco), associating with the Arab Group and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, decried the disastrous situation in Palestine due to the occupying Power’s policies, as well as the Judaization of territory, settlement building, home destruction and repression of civilians, all of which further complicates the situation. We are witnessing the disappearance of the two-State solution, he said, noting that such actions also nullify attempts to restart the political process. Al Quds remains at the heart of the conflict, as the centre of the Middle East and the essence of the political solution. Its legal status cannot be undermined; it is guaranteed under various resolutions. The King has continually underlined the need to preserve its historic and legal status, as well as called for an end to settlement building, Judaization efforts and plans that would change the city’s legal status. The Al Quds appeal calls for preserving the city’s unique nature and identity, he explained, and following his visit to Jordan, the King reaffirmed his full support for the creation of an independent Palestinian State along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on the Arab Peace Initiative, among other documents. Morocco’s position is based on that Initiative, he added.

LUIS BERMASDEZ (Uruguay) said the viability of the two-State solution is at serious risk, pointing out that various initiatives are on the table � announced, partially unveiled and those to be put forward in the future. Most important is bringing the parties together for direct talks to address all pending issues, which is a better alternative to the current paralysis. There is no replacement for the two-State solution, he said, underscoring the right of Israel and Palestine to live in peace along secure borders and free from any action that could derail peace. Without rolling back current negative trends, it will be impossible for Palestinians to realize their State in real terms. Incitement to any violent act should be roundly condemned and he called on both sides to gradually reduce tensions. Recalling 10 measures that Uruguay put forward for consideration, he distanced his country from those who disrespect the norms adopted by the Council and Assembly, and who ignore International Court of Justice advisory opinions, stressing that any exercise of perverted sovereignty will be in vain.

LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador) said his country’s position on settlements has not changed. Any demolitions or confiscations are illegal. Amid human rights violations, the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory goes from bad to worse. Noting that the 2004 International Court of Justice advisory opinion stated that Israel’s construction of the wall violated international law, he voiced concern about building demolitions in East Jerusalem and said the Council must act. Its inaction has opened the door for the total disregard of calls by the Quartet for measures to reverse trends that are undermining the two-State solution. He called for the creation of two States living side by side in peace and security along 1967 borders, a two-State solution reiterated in resolution 2334 (2016), he said, expressing support for any initiative aimed at resumed negotiations between the two sides.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said that Israel’s recent attempt to disfigure the historical realities by opening the so-called Jewish pilgrim path extending from the Silwan pool to the Al-Buraq Wall constitutes blatant contempt for international law. The limitless aggression, indiscriminate killing of innocent Palestinians, including children, intensification of Israeli settlement policies, ongoing assault on Islamic and Christian holy places particularly Al-Aqsa [] render peace in the Middle East as elusive as ever, he stressed. Israel’s illegal blockade, escalation of military aggression and raids are making the already volatile situation more perilous. Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals would miserably fail if we leave our Palestinian brothers and sisters behind in their political, social, economic and cultural hardships, he said. The international community must take action and intervene by compelling Israeli authorities to lift the blockade, facilitate the freedom of movement of Palestinian civilians and ensure their basic supplies. He also urged the Security Council to ensure the implementation of its resolutions to end the Israeli occupation, which remains the bedrock of achieving lasting peace in the Middle East.

RAUF ALP DENKTAS (Turkey) said that the dramatic escalation of settlement activities intends to create new realities on the ground. It is an attempt to undermine the two-State vision and the possibility of coexistence, he added. In Al Quds, Palestinians are also facing eviction orders and daily incursions into their neighbourhoods. These demolitions are occurring for the first time in areas under the authority of the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Agreement. The situation in Al-Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount is also concerning. For the first time in years, hundreds of settlers entered Haram al-Sharif during Ramadan, he said, adding: We saw attacks against Muslims worshipping at Al-Aqsa Mosque. All these illegal steps must immediately stop. Peace requires Israel to show political will and refrain from provocative and detrimental actions. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to the blatant disregard of international law. Turning to the suffering of the Palestinian people, he stressed that economic projects and plans cannot replace the need for dignity, justice and freedom. Until a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestine conflict is achieved, the work of UNRWA remains vital.

ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, emphasized the importance of a lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Israel’s hostile practices continue, he said, strongly condemning the recent demolition of Palestinian homes. He called on the international community, particularly the Security Council, to fulfil its obligations and put an end to Israel’s occupation. We condemn the Israeli attempts to change the historic status quo of Jerusalem, he said, calling for the full implementation of resolution 2334 (2016). He emphasized the territorial sovereignty of Libya and called for the acceleration of a comprehensive political settlement under the auspices of the United Nations. Stability must be returned to Libya and the international community must do more to alleviate the suffering of that country’s people. Ending the Syrian crisis also should end all external interference in that country. Stopping the bloodshed requires transitioning to political process based on the Geneva communique. The continued negative conduct of Iran threatens regional security, commercial shipping lines and the well-being of civilians. Iran’s conduct undermines the requirements for building trust and jeopardizes stability and security. We are ready to establish friendly relations with Iran, he said. The Houthi militia in Yemen are using conflict and violence to try to achieve their political goals, adding that solving the crisis is dependent on political dialogue.

MONA JUUL (Norway), citing increased tensions in the Gulf region, underscored her country’s commitment to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which has a crucial role in international non-proliferation and for regional stability. Iran’s recent enrichment activities are inconsistent with its commitments and she urged it to return to full compliance, expressing strong support for measures by the E3 � France, Germany and the United Kingdom � and the European Union to preserve the accord. More broadly, she said only a two State solution can create peace between Israelis and Palestinians, with urgent actions required to improve living conditions for Palestinians, recalling that the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee remains the international framework to address economic issues. Regarding Syria, she voiced strong support for the early establishment of a constitutional committee. On Yemen, she urged all parties to abide by the Stockholm agreement and urged the Council to apply pressure on them to honour their commitments.

ANA SILVIA RODRA�GUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba) expressed concern over home demolitions and seizure of Palestinian assets by Israel, also condemning its occupation of Palestinian territory, settlement activities and disproportionate use of force, in particular in Gaza � all of which violated international law. The Council must demand an immediate end to Israel’s occupation and aggressive policies, and instead, press it to comply with its resolutions, notably resolution 2334 (2016). The Council’s tacit complicity � communicated in its silence on such matters � is unacceptable. Cuba is alarmed that Israel will not allow a continued international presence in Hebron, and that it has frozen Palestinian Authority remittances. She called for a broad, fair and lasting solution to the conflict, allowing Palestinians to exercise their right to self-determination in establishing a State along pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital and the right of refugee return duly recognized. She rejected United States unilateral actions and withdrawal of funding to UNRWA, as well as any unilateral measures to undermine the two-State solution. Cuba will continue to support Syria’s efforts to recover the Golan Heights, she said, calling for Israel’s unconditional withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories.

THILMEEZA HUSSAIN (Maldives) said that the lack of action by the international community is epitomized in the seven-decades-old question of Palestine, now one of the longest standing issues on the agenda of the Council. The plight of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination will always remain a major priority of Maldives. She reaffirmed unwavering support to any resolution involving international consensus on a two-State solution, with an independent and sovereign State of Palestine. She urged the Security Council and the international community to redouble its efforts, to end the conflict so that the people of Palestine can enjoy meaningful and lasting peace. On Syria, she said the aftermath of the conflict has presented Member States with a new set of challenges. She called on the Council and the United Nations to provide assistance and stand together in their efforts to avoid the impending humanitarian crisis. Turning to Yemen, she said that Maldives remains concerned that the country remains fragile, expressing the need to find a comprehensive political solution and fully implement the Hodeidah Agreement.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, said the Council has been unable to force the occupying Power to end its occupation because of the unreserved support of the United States for Israel, which has emboldened the Zionist regime to commit international crimes with impunity. The so-called deal of the century that was the subject of a workshop on Palestine in Bahrain, and which all Palestinian groups have rejected, is an illusion aimed at consolidating the occupation. The Council must end a vicious cycle of being bullied by one of its permanent members, he said, adding that the question of Palestine can only be solved by ending the occupation. He went on to say that the statement by Israel’s delegate was an unsuccessful attempt to distract attention from the crimes and unlawful policies of its regime.

SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a threat to international peace and security, urging upon the Council to act and defend tooth and nail its obligation to uphold the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Resolutions should not be allowed to fall by the wayside. He called on the Council to break through the paralysis and fulfil its responsibilities. The Palestinian people must be able to enjoy their inalienable rights, he stressed, urging the need to implement resolution 2334 (2016). The situation in the Gaza Strip continues to be of great alarm, he said, echoing his group’s call for the lifting of the blockade. The crisis in Gaza should be addressed in a holistic way. The humanitarian crisis there is the direct result of the Israeli occupation, he said, also calling for an end to that country’s unjust actions. It is clear that Israel has renounced its obligation as an occupying Power to protect the people under its occupation. For this reason, the Movement reiterates that it is the responsibility of the United Nations and international community to ensure the well-being of the Palestinian people. It also expresses concerns over Israel’s lack of accountability. The lack of justice only fuels impunity thus pushing back the possibility of peace. On the occupied Golan, he said any attempt to modify it and apply Israel’s jurisdiction and law there is null and void. He urged Israel to end its violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty.

JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) emphasized the importance of the international community to implement resolutions on peace and stability in the Middle East and to create the conditions for a political settlement, including by preventing interference in the internal affairs of States. Condemning the actions of the Israeli authorities in Sur Bahir, he said peace is only possible in the region by resolving the Palestinian question. He noted that Bahrain in June hosted, in partnership with the United States, a meeting on the theme Peace to Prosperity, which built upon his country’s efforts to realize Palestinian aspirations for peace and development. Underscoring his country’s support for United States efforts for a just and comprehensive peace, he urged the international community to join ranks and work towards innovative mechanisms for addressing new challenges.

MAJID MOHAMMAD ABDULRAHMAN MOHAMMAD ALMUTAWA (United Arab Emirates), associating himself with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, urged the international community to establish an independent Palestinian State along 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in line with the Arab Peace Initiative. Israel must cease its illegal Judaization, creating new facts on the ground, expanding settlements and demolishing Palestinian property. The United Arab Emirates provided more than $364 million to UNRWA and Palestinians in 2017 and 2018, he said, more broadly reiterating support � within the Coalition for the Support of Legitimacy in Yemen � for efforts to reach a political solution in that country. He condemned in the strongest terms attacks by Houthi militias on Saudi Arabia, actions which require the Council to prevent the flow of Iranian weapons to Yemen, in violation of resolutions 2216 (2015) and 2231 (2015). He also stressed that a political solution to the crises in Syria and Libya is the only path forward and he called on concerned parties to find solutions within the framework of relevant Council resolutions. He also expressed concern over terrorists’ exploitation of the security vacuum in Libya and called for international efforts to restore stability in the region.

BEN BOURGEL (Israel), taking the floor a second time, responded to the statement of his counterpart from Lebanon, saying that, since the adoption of resolution 1701 (2006), Hizbullah has only further entrenched itself in southern Lebanon and the area of operations of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is anything but calm. Lebanon’s authorities have a responsibility to extend sovereignty over the territory, but they are failing to do so. Such a situation is unacceptable for anyone who wants to prevent a war. He added that restrictions on UNIFIL’s movements are cause for alarm. The Council must ensure that Lebanon’s authorities investigate attacks thoroughly and swiftly. He added that the Secretariat’s next report on the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006) should accurately reflect the dangerous situation on the ground. In that regard, a map depicting where UNIFIL is operating and where it is now would be helpful. The arms embargo set out in resolution 1701 (2006) must also be fully implemented and duly reported, he said.

Source: United Nations

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