2022 Among Deadliest Years for Palestinians in West Bank, Middle East Peace Process Coordinator Tells Security Council
Speakers Criticize Organ’s Longstanding Failure to Resolve Conflict, End Occupation
Amid a situation in a downward spiral, marked by an increase in violence across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, determined actions by both parties are urgently needed to reverse negative trends on the ground, the senior United Nations official for the Middle East peace process told the Security Council today, cautioning delegates that a failure to address the root causes of the escalation will only worsen an already explosive situation.
“Fertile ground” for the present situation has been created by decades of violence and its toll on both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as a prolonged absence of meaningful negotiations and a failure to resolve the key issues fuelling the conflict, said Tor Wennesland, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, during the 15-member Council’s quarterly open debate. Noting that the reporting period saw a spike in fatal violence across the West Bank, he outlined recent, near-daily instances of violence, unfolding against a backdrop of unabated Israeli settlement expansion, evictions of Palestinians and home demolitions.
“So far, 2022 is on course to be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs began systematically tracking Palestinian fatalities in 2005,” he continued, noting that much of the violence took place in the context of military operations to arrest what Israeli authorities said were Palestinians suspected of involvement in attacks or planned attacks on Israelis. Expressing alarm at the intensity of violence in the occupied West Bank, and deploring that children continue to be the victims of violence, he reiterated that perpetrators of all such acts must be held accountable, and said that security forces must exercise maximum restraint.
Despite the overall grim situation, he touched on positive developments that had taken place, including, in late September, a call made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to mark Rosh Hashanah. Moreover, the Algiers Declaration was signed on 13 October, in which 14 Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, agreed to recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and to hold elections for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Legislative Council and the Palestinian National Council.
The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine focused his intervention on exhorting the Council to assume its role, which he said is not only to adopt resolutions and allow for their breach over decades, nor to only state the law. The Council must also uphold it, he emphasized. Israel is trying to destroy Palestine, he said, telling the Council: “Your role is to protect it, or you would be effectively abandoning the two-State solution altogether”. He went on to underscore that standing up with the Palestine means standing up to the occupation, stressing: “If there is anything more you can do, and you know there is much more that can be done, do it. What are you waiting for?”
Israel’s representative, meanwhile, said that at the United Nations, the Palestinians “paint a picture that is completely detached from reality”. The facts on the ground point to Israel being in the midst of a “terror wave”, he said, noting that since the start of 2022, there have been over 4,000 Palestinian terror attacks perpetrated against Israelis. While the Palestinian Authority plays victim at the Council, on the street of Nablus and Jenin, they praise terrorists, he said, adding that Palestinian senior leadership has consistently refused to sit down at the negotiating table with Israel and has rejected every peace plan placed before them. Meanwhile, he continued, the United Nations pursues a biased approach of exclusively blaming the Jewish State, which sends the message that the Palestinians do not have to make a single concession.
In the ensuing debate, Council members and non-members took the floor to air their views on the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recent developments. Many expressed alarm at the escalating cycles of tension and violence, and emphasized the need for de-escalation and for the protection of civilians, while some expressed concern over attacks on holy sites, emphasizing the need to preserve their historical and legal status quo. Several speakers praised the Algiers Declaration, expressing hope that the positive momentum can be built on, while others issued warnings about the relentless pace and intensity of settlement activity, to which they attributed the resurgence in violence and tension.
Among delegates expressing such views was the representative of France, who pointed out that one of the root causes of this resurgence of violence is the continuation of the Israeli settlement policy, illegal under international law. Increasing settler violence must stop and those responsible must be held accountable by competent authorities. Calling for suspension of evictions and demolitions, she noted the rise in tensions is also explained by growing restrictions of movement for Palestinians in the occupied territories — which now also apply to foreigners in the West Bank — and which are unacceptable.
Also addressing the question of settlements, the representative of Lebanon said that Israeli policies of expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, uprooting Palestinians from their homes and lands and splitting their cities, aggravate the deadlock and tarnish all efforts towards a two-State solution. Only relevant Council resolutions can be the basis for a political settlement that gives Palestinians their lands and long overdue rights of self-determination. She went on to spotlight an agreement signed on 27 October by the Lebanese Government with Israel to delineate its southern maritime border, voicing hope that it will bring stability and prosperity to the people of Lebanon and provide momentum towards viable solutions to other issues.
Meanwhile, Norway’s delegate expressed deep concern over the reported increase in the number of children detained, and physical violence against children during detention and calls on Israeli authorities to uphold international law, and to adhere to juvenile justice standards, including the use of detention as a measure of last resort.
Among those addressing the worsening humanitarian situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was the representative of Gabon, Council President for the month, speaking in his national capacity, who underscored the importance of providing commensurate financing for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) so it can play a stabilizing role at a time when it “desperately needs to restore its operational capacity”. Noting that civilians run the risk of losing access to health care, education and food, he called for the total lifting of the Gaza blockade in line with Council resolution 1860 (2009).
Many speakers upbraided the Council directly for its inaction, with the representative of Iran calling on it to lend effective support — not just its sympathy — to ending the occupation. Stating that Israel brazenly violates all United Nations resolutions, including Council resolutions, he said the 15-member organ’s silence — and carte blanche provided by a permanent Council member — have led to these resolutions remaining only on paper. The conflict can only be resolved if the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are restored to them, he added.
Echoing such points, the observer for the League of Arab States warned that the failure of the Council to address the Palestinian question will lead to greater reliance on the General Assembly, Human Rights Council, International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court to promote the power of democracy, human rights and law. Stressing on the need for international resolutions and movements that will “expand the circle of international recognition of the Palestine State” while also giving Palestine full membership in the United Nations, he pointed out that it is illogical that Israel condemns the Russian Federation in its occupation of parts of the Ukrainian territories while continuing its settlement activities in violation of Council resolution 2334 (2016).
Also speaking were Government ministers and representatives from the United States, Ghana, Ireland, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Albania, China, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Mexico, Brazil, India, Hungary, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan (on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), Japan, Algeria, Türkiye, Morocco, Tunisia, Ecuador, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Venezuela, South Africa, Kuwait, Syria, Republic of Korea, Iraq (on behalf of the Arab Group), Bahrain, Qatar, Cuba, Azerbaijan and Brunei Darussalam.
An Observer for the European Union also participated, as did the Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
The meeting began at 10:19 a.m., suspended at 1:06 p.m., resumed at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 5:36 p.m.
TOR WENNESLAND, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefing the Security Council, described a situation in a downward spiral, with too many people, overwhelmingly Palestinian, killed and injured in daily violence, and with mounting hopelessness, anger and tension once again erupting into a deadly cycle of violence that is increasingly difficult to contain. “Fertile ground” for the present situation has been created by decades of violence and its toll on both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as a prolonged absence of meaningful negotiations and a failure to resolve the key issues fuelling the conflict, he said.
Discussions were held to address the volatile situation with Palestinian officials and factions across the West Bank and in Gaza, and a range of Israeli officials and members of the international community, he continued, adding: “My message has been clear: the immediate priority is to work to calm the situation and reverse the negative trends on the ground. This will require determined actions by both parties, supported by the international community.” However, he cautioned that efforts are also urgently needed to empower and strengthen the Palestinian Authority and build towards a return to a political process, as a failure to address the symptoms and root causes of such a violent escalation will only worsen an already explosive situation.
Outlining daily violence that increased throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory during the reporting period, he said that 32 Palestinians, including six children, were killed by Israeli security forces during demonstrations, clashes, search-and-arrest operations, attacks and alleged attacks against Israelis, while another 311 Palestinians, including one woman and eight children, were injured. Israeli settlers or other civilians perpetrated 106 attacks against Palestinians resulting in 63 injuries and/or damage to Palestinian property. In all, two Israeli security forces personnel were killed, and 25 Israeli civilians, including five women and three children, and 13 Israeli security forces personnel were injured by Palestinians in shootings, clashes and the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails, among other incidents. In total, Palestinians perpetrated 115 attacks against Israeli civilians, 100 of which were stone-throwing incidents, resulting in injuries and/or damage to Israeli property.
Stating that the reporting period saw a spike in fatal violence across the occupied West Bank, he said: “So far, 2022 is on course to be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs began systematically tracking Palestinian fatalities in 2005. Violence was particularly intense in Jenin and Nablus governorates, in the northern West Bank,” he said. Noting that 10 Palestinians in Jenin, including two children, were killed by Israel security forces, who killed eight Palestinians in Nablus, he pointed out that most of these fatalities occurred during military operations to arrest what Israeli authorities said were Palestinians suspected of involvement in attacks or planned attacks against Israelis, and during related armed clashes. He went on to describe a mounting cycle of heightened tensions, beginning with such operations in refugee camps, which led to exchange of fire which killed Palestinians and bystanders, sparking counter-attacks, strict movement restrictions, and then spreading protests and demonstrations, which led to Palestinians conducting general strikes across the West Bank, leading to yet more clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians.
Settler-related violence and provocations also increased during the reporting period, contributing to a dynamic of escalating violence in the occupied West Bank, he said, adding that settlers held numerous demonstrations across the West Bank, with protesters on multiple occasions blocking main roads, throwing stones and impeding movement for Palestinian residents. Tensions were particularly high around Nablus, where settlers impeded main routes for Palestinian residents and on several occasions, groups of Israeli settlers entered the Palestinian town of Huwwara, damaging Palestinian property and prompting clashes with residents, in some cases in the presence of Israeli security forces. Outlining a number of such attacks in which Palestinians, including children, were injured, accompanied by Israeli security forces, he noted that the Israel Defense Forces announced that it had opened investigations into two separate cases where soldiers were documented violently assaulting Palestinians or shooting towards Palestinian homes.
He went on to express alarm at the intensity of violence in the occupied West Bank, including the high number of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces, numerous armed attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, including killings, and settler violence. He reiterated that perpetrators of all acts of violence must be held accountable and that security forces must exercise maximum restraint and use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life, adding: “I am appalled that children continue to be the victims of violence.”
Turning to demolitions in the West Bank, he outlined a series of incidents in which Israeli authorities demolished, seized or forced owners to demolish 38 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and three in East Jerusalem, which displaced 81 Palestinians, adding that these demolitions were carried out due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain. He called on Israeli authorities to end the displacement and eviction of Palestinians and to approve additional plans that will enable Palestinians to build legally and address their development needs.
Despite the overall deteriorating situation, he touched on some positive developments during the reporting period, including, in late September, a call made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Moreover, the Algeria Declaration was signed on 13 October, following an inter-factional dialogue hosted by the Government of Algeria, 14 Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, in which the factions agreed to recognize the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and to hold elections for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestine Legislative Council and the Palestinian National Council. Further, in the Gaza Strip, Israel increased by some 1,300 the issuance of permits for Palestinians from Gaza to work or conduct business in Israel, and more trucks bearing imports were able to enter Gaza through the Salah ad-Din gate.
However, he pointed out that there were delays in the implementation of large-scale infrastructure projects such as the Gaza Central Desalination Project, due to delays in Israeli approvals of entry for materials under the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, underscoring the need to ensure the timely entry of such materials and sustaining vital donor support to these efforts.
On the humanitarian response, he regretted that it faces chronic funding gaps across the Occupied Palestinian Territories, pointing out that as of October, only 57 per cent of the requirements of the Humanitarian Response Plan had been met, while Palestinians across the region face additional economic pressures and the risk of food insecurity due to cost of living increases.
Touching on other positive developments, he welcomed the signing on 27 October of an agreement by the Governments of Lebanon and Israel that settles their maritime boundary dispute, mediated by the United States, and expressed hope that the development will promote increased stability in the region.
He went on to emphasize the urgent need for concrete steps by all sides to address the situation on the ground, calling on the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to recognize what is at stake and to take the steps within their power to restore calm. The United Nations remains actively engaged with all relevant parties and is committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict by ending the occupation and realizing a two-State solution on the basis of the 1967 lines, in line with relevant United Nations resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements.
RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, stressed that recognizing Palestine is not a card to be played at the right time, but is the right political, legal and moral step. Pointing out that Israel is trying to destroy the State of Palestine, he called out to the Council that “your role is to protect it or you would be effectively abandoning the two-State solution altogether”. Noting that the international community is drifting away from every determination the Council had made and from its common objective, he stressed that the role of this Council is not only to determine the way forward but is to make sure that States keep moving forward till they reach the destination. Its role is not only to adopt resolutions and allow for their breach over decades, nor is it to only state the law. The Council must also uphold it, he emphasized.
If the Council is unable or unwilling to do so, he continued, it is the responsibility of the General Assembly to determine what actions need to be undertaken in support of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and just and lasting peace. Highlighting that the international law-based order never envisaged a situation of perpetual occupation, he suggested asking the International Court of Justice to make a factual and legal determination on whether Israel has defied the world and the rule of law. Underscoring that standing up with the Palestine means standing up to the occupation, he asked the Council: “If there is anything more you can do, and you know there is much more that can be done, do it. What are you waiting for?”
GILAD MENASHE ERDAN (Israel) said that at the United Nations the Palestinians “paint a picture that is completely detached from reality”. But in order to see past the Palestinians falsehoods, “all one needs to do is look at the facts on the ground”. Israel is in the midst of a terror wave. Since the start of 2022 alone, there have been over 4,000 Palestinian terror attacks perpetrated against Israelis, including rock throwing, stabbing, shooting, rockets and many other acts of Palestinian violence. Rather than investing resources into bettering the lives of its people, the Palestinian Authority prefers to foster a culture of hate. Generations of refusal to recognize the right of a Jewish State to exist is what really prevents any progress. President Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t even represent all the Palestinian people and does not control Gaza. The Palestinian Authority may play victim here at the Council yet on the street of Nablus and Jenin, they praise terrorists. Palestinian senior leadership has consistently refused to sit down at the negotiating table with Israel and has rejected every peace plan placed before them, whether by Israel or by United States Presidents from both sides of the political aisle. But the United Nations prefers to demonize Israel. This biased approach of exclusively blaming the Jewish State sends the message that the Palestinians don’t have to make a single concession.
For years, Israel has been saying that Iran is the most critical danger to the Middle East. Iran may publicly threaten Israel with annihilation, yet those who suffer the most from the Ayatollahs’ terror are the people of Iran. The regime oppresses women while murdering them for not wearing headscarves properly. Hundreds of protesters have been killed, among them children, and thousands more have been arrested. The Ayatollahs’ “tentacles of terror” reach far beyond the borders of Iran. The regime pours billions of dollars into their terror proxies spread across the region. Thanks to Iranian funding, hundreds of thousands of rockets are currently pointed at Israeli towns and cities. The most significant threat is that Iran is “galloping at full speed” towards nuclear weapons. “Just imagine how much more emboldened Iran terror proxies will be when they can operate freely under the Ayatollahs’ nuclear umbrella,” he said. Iran is now causing carnage in Ukraine. “As we speak, Iranian attack drones are flying in the skies above Europe wreaking havoc,” he said. “Where’s the logic in negotiating a nuclear deal or anything else with pathologic pathological liars?”
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) expressed concern that 2022 will be deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2006, with a spike in violence leading to the deaths of at least 23 Palestinians and 4 Israelis in the past month. Calling on both parties to do everything in their power to prevent such violence, she stressed both peoples deserve dignity and justice. As the United Nations enters its committee season, she condemned the disproportionate number of resolutions targeting Israel, which do nothing to address realities on the ground, nor the possibilities for progress. However, she voiced understanding that the Palestinian people need and deserve a political horizon and something to hope for. Citing the 11 October agreement between Israel and Lebanon ending their maritime dispute, she noted the deal sets the stage for a stable and prosperous region. While regional peace agreements are not a substitute for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, they can advance progress towards a two-State solution. Both parties must refrain from unilateral actions, she stressed.
CAROLYN OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana), pointing to the intensification of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the northern West Bank in the past month, condemned all incidents of violence, the use of force and unilateral action on both sides. Calling on both sides to show maximum restraint and refrain from unilateral actions that could escalate tensions and prejudice the peace and mutual trust urgently needed to stabilize the situation and to reverse negative trends on the ground, she also urged the Council and the wider international community to be constructive by sustaining the engagement of the parties whose good-faith efforts are required to resolve this decades-long conflict.
CAÍT MORAN (Ireland) emphasized the need for de-escalation and protection of civilians, pointing to the sharp deterioration in the security situation in the occupied West Bank, as well as concerns about excessive use of force by Israeli security forces and their restrictions on freedom of movement. Israel’s continued support for settlement expansion undermines the recognized parameters for a two-State solution, she said, calling on Israel to cease all settlement activities. Noting the sharp increase in coordinated and armed settler violence in parts of the West Bank, where the olive harvest is underway, she further called on Israeli authorities to act urgently to ensure that Palestinians living and farming in the occupied West Bank can go about their daily lives without fear of violence or intimidation. The recent signing of the Algiers Declaration is a positive step towards reconciliation between Palestinian factions, she said, urging Israeli authorities to uphold their obligations to facilitate in full a democratic process including in East Jerusalem. She further called for accountability in respect of all civilian deaths and in particular an independent investigation into the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said no one who cares about the peaceful coexistence of both States could have remained indifferent to the address of the speaker from Palestine, Riyad Mansour. Expressing regret that resolutions passed on the situation in the General Assembly have failed to be implemented for decades, he said it is high time for the Council to take steps to address the unacceptable situation. He expressed concern about the uptick in violence, leading to bloody casualties, and expressed regret about incidents affecting civilians due to “Israel’s so-called counter-terrorism raids”. The Russian Federation calls on all parties to exercise restraint and abandon provocative actions. The resurgence of violence on the ground has been triggered in part by Israel to create irreversible facts on ground, he said, adding that his country’s position on the situation remains unchanged: it supports a viable long-term solution in line with the United Nations-endorsed formula based on 1967 borders. Further, concerns about Israeli security must be considered. Pointing out that the political stagnation is being actively exploited by opponents of the peace process, he called on the immediate resumption of peace talks. Responding to the comments made by Israel’s delegate on the use of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles, he categorically rejected such assertions.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) urged all parties to reduce tensions, condemn incitement and avoid further escalation in violence. “In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, we are alarmed by the number of Palestinians killed, including six minors this month, by Israeli security forces,” she said, calling for investigations to be transparent. The United Kingdom is also concerned by the increase in Palestinian violence. Two Israel Defense Forces soldiers have lost their lives in October after being shot by Palestinians, she said. More needs to be done to tackle settler violence, which has affected Israel Defense Forces soldiers, but affects Palestinians on a daily basis across the West Bank. “The Israeli Government needs to end the culture of impunity and bring those responsible to justice,” she stressed. Underscoring the need to provide education and health services to women and girls, she expressed concern that the employment rate of Palestinian women remains quite low, with only 13 per cent of women over 25 employed. She further expressed support to UNRWA and urged Member States to continue to improve the Agency’s financial situation.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) called on Israel and Palestine to step back from unilateral actions and commit themselves to de-escalation. Describing the maritime agreement between Israel and Lebanon as a clear example of diplomacy delivering results, he stressed that “with diplomacy and dialogue, there are always only winners, no losers”. While stressing the need to not tolerate transgressive behaviours by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups, he also condemned the destabilizing role that Iran has played in the region and beyond. Further condemning the Iranian regime’s repressive actions against its own people, he pointed out that what history teaches us is that “freedom ends by winning, and Iran will never be an exception”.
GENG SHUANG (China) called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and make every effort to reverse the negative trends on the ground. The occupying Power must earnestly fulfil its obligations under international law to ensure the safety and security of the people in the Occupied Territory, he said. Israel’s continued expansion of settlement activities encroaches on Palestinian land, expropriates Palestinian resources and violates the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. The current situation only highlights the urgent need to advance a two-State solution. “The international community cannot replace a comprehensive injustice solution with piecemeal crisis management,” he added, also welcoming the internal reconciliation agreement reached by the Palestinian political factions in Algiers in October. Such progress is conducive to enhancing intra-Palestinian unity and promoting peace talks between the two sides, he said.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) noted that since the beginning of 2022, more than 120 Palestinians from the West Bank and Jerusalem and 20 Israelis have been killed, and many more injured. Urging the parties to refrain from any provocation or unilateral action, she stressed that France will also never compromise on Israel’s security, condemning any attack targeting its territory or its nationals. However, one of the root causes of this resurgence of violence is the continuation of the Israeli settlement policy, illegal under international law. Increasing settler violence must stop and those responsible must be held accountable by competent authorities. Calling for suspension of evictions and demolitions, she noted the rise in tensions is also explained by growing restrictions of movement for Palestinians in the occupied territories — which now also apply to foreigners in the West Bank — and which are unacceptable. The rise in tension and violence in the West Bank and Jerusalem illustrate the urgency of resuming direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
AMIERAH ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates) called on the Council to take urgent diplomatic action that encourages all parties to return to genuine negotiations. “A political solution is the only way to end this conflict and establish an independent, sovereign Palestinian State based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” she said. It is imperative to stop all illegal practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially those that increase the likelihood of further confrontations. The situation is further exacerbated by continued settler violence. She called on all parties to abide by their responsibilities under international law. In light of the recent incursions into the Ibrahimi Mosque in the city of Hebron as well as holy places in Jerusalem, the United Arab Emirates calls for any unilateral or provocative action in holy places to stop. Spotlighting the humanitarian challenges facing Palestinian people, she expressed deep concern that 36 per cent of them live below the poverty line, and that the Gaza Strip has one of the world’s highest rates of unemployment.
MONA JUUL (Norway) expressed concern over the increased use of live ammunition. Over 100 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in 2022, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. That number makes 2022 the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2006. Settler violence also remains a major concern, she added, condemning all violence against civilians and all acts of terrorism. Norway expresses deep concern over the reported increase in the number of children detained, and physical violence against children during detention and calls on Israeli authorities to uphold international law, and to adhere to juvenile justice standards, including the use of detention as a measure of last resort. She welcomed Israel’s decision today to lift some of the closures that were put in place around Nablus earlier in October and called on Palestinian factions to come together under a unified leadership with a commitment to the two-State solution. “And we urge Palestinian factions and key regional actors to continue consultations to advance national reconciliation,” she said. Norway also urges Member States to increase the funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
EVA NTHOKI (Kenya) stressing that the Council needs to move beyond the stagnated state of engagement with the situation in the Middle East, said that discussions and actions need to be commensurate with “actual happenings, risks and proper reading of the situation on the ground”. Recalling that commitment to an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian State also means the immediate and complete cessation of Israeli settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, she expressed hope that the Algiers Declaration signed in October by 14 Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, translates into actual reconciliation and paves the way for elections to establish a national unity Government.
JUAN GÓMEZ ROBLEDO VERDUZCO (Mexico) deplored the escalation of violence in the West Bank, particularly in Nablus, and stressed the urgent need to guarantee immediate and unfettered access of humanitarian personnel and assistance. Settler incitement around Nablus could lead to more protests and more severe clashes, he pointed out, urging social leaders to refrain from provocations and the Israeli authorities to bring to justice those responsible for attacks against civilians. Mexico has always recognized Israel's right to self-defence in accordance with international humanitarian law, he said, calling on Israeli security authorities to always adhere to the principles of necessity, proportionality and distinction. Noting the reports issued this month by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967 and by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and Israel, he urged that visits to Israel and Palestine by those mechanisms be facilitated to enable them to discharge their mandate. Mexico intends to make a voluntary financial contribution to UNWRA again this year, he said, calling on Palestinian political factions to continue working to overcome their differences and focus on meeting the basic needs of the population.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) expressed concern about the deteriorating situation in the West Bank and echoed Special Coordinator Wennesland’s call to political leaders on all sides to engage in dialogue in good faith, to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control. He emphasized the need to avoid the risk of further escalation, and called on all parties to exercise restraint, to adhere to their obligations in line with international humanitarian law. He welcomed the signing of the Algeria Declaration on 13 October and thanked Algeria for its role in mediation efforts. Pointing out that poverty provides ground for extremist forces to flourish, he expressed concern about the low levels of funding for UNRWA, whose indispensable work is needed for stability. Brazil reaffirms its commitment to a two-State solution according to international law and Council resolutions to meet the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians and ensure the security of all.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India) welcomed the recent agreement between Israel and Lebanon on delineating their maritime boundary as a positive step towards achieving peace and stability in the region. Encouraging Israel and Palestine to take concrete steps to solve the conflict peacefully and to re-engage in meaningful negotiations, he stressed that the only way to attain lasting peace is a two-State solution achieved through direct negotiations, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians for statehood and Israel’s legitimate security concerns. He urged the United Nations and the international community to play an important role in the efforts towards resuming these negotiations.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), Council President for October, speaking in his national capacity, underscored that while the protection of the rights of the Palestinian people must be assured, Israel’s security must also be guaranteed. Recalling that the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continues to worsen, he stressed importance of the financing UNRWA so the Agency can play a stabilizing role at a time when it “desperately needs to restore its operational capacity.” Noting that civilians run the risk of losing access to health care, education and food, he called for the total lifting of the Gaza blockade in line with Council resolution 1860 (2009). He further invited parties to create a climate of trust to ensure the return of human remains to families.
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said that living next door to the war in Ukraine “makes us extremely interested” in achieving peace. “The more regional conflicts out there, the bigger the chance that all these end up in a global war, in a world war,” he warned. The Middle East has been a source of serious security risks in the recent decades. Unrest in that region has many global consequences including an increased threat of terror and mass migration. “For us Europeans, it is of utmost importance, that there should be huge steps made in the Middle East towards peace,” he said, commending the signing of the Abraham Accords initiative. “I do believe that we have to recognize the role of President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, who facilitated the cooperation and discussion between Israel and the Arab countries,” he said. If it was possible for former United States President Donald Trump to make peace between Israel and some Arab countries, it must be possible to create peace in Ukraine as well. If there are no negotiations, there will be no peace. The rhetoric of war must be replaced by the rhetoric of peace. “And I think we should continue this method put forward by President Trump in the Middle East and keep the dialogue ongoing between Israel and the Arab countries and the counterparts, and we have to apply this method in and regarding Ukraine as well,” he said.
JEANNE MRAD (Lebanon) noted Israeli policies of expanding settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, uprooting Palestinians from their homes and lands and splitting their cities, aggravate the deadlock and tarnish all efforts towards a two-State solution. Only relevant Council resolutions can be the basis for a political settlement that gives Palestinians their lands and long overdue rights of self-determination. She called for the Council and the international community to pressure Israel to engage in the peace process, including efforts by the Middle East Quartet. As the lack of long-term funding for UNRWA risks suspending essential services to millions of Palestinian refugees — including those in Lebanon — she implored the Council and Member States to guarantee predictable and sustained funding, allocating expenses from the regular United Nations budget. Expressing support for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), she stressed that daily Israeli violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity represent a threat to peace and security. She called on the Council to force Israel to refrain from further airspace violations and aggressions. Noting the Government yesterday signed an agreement with Israel to delineate its southern maritime border, she voiced hope it will bring stability and prosperity to the people of Lebanon and provide momentum towards viable solutions to other issues.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt) stressed the need to end all unilateral measures and acts of violence, whether by the occupying forces or the settlers, and to provide international protection for the Palestinian people. He called for implementation of the recommendations issued by the Ministerial Meeting of the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee for the coordination of international assistance to Palestinians, which convened in September. Noting Egypt’s support for the Palestinian economy to end its reliance on Israel, he said the Palestinian economy must be provided with all the means to “prosper naturally”. UNWRA’s mandate must be renewed without any modification, he said, voicing support for all proposals aimed at increasing the Agency’s funding through the United Nations regular budget. Security and stability in the Middle East can be achieved only with granting the Palestinian people their rights, especially their right to self-determination in an independent State. Turning to developments in Libya, he called for intensified efforts to hold presidential and parliamentary elections and build on efforts aimed at reaching a constitutional basis. On Yemen, he voiced support for all efforts aimed at achieving a comprehensive settlement of the crisis through a political solution that guarantees the country’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
KATHERINE ANAS AHMAD AL-HALIQUE (Jordan) urged concerted efforts at the international level for a return to negotiations leading to peace in the region based on a two-State solution. She condemned Israel’s ongoing incursions into, and repeated attacks on, Palestinian cities, stressing that escalatory actions by the Israeli military threatens a spiral of violence. Noting Israel’s ongoing steps aimed at changing the legal and historical status quo at Aqsa Mosque/Haram al-Sharif and imposing a temporal and spatial division therein, she emphasized that her country will continue its efforts to protect the holy sites and preserve their historical and legal status quo. Israel must respect the fact that that Aqsa Mosque/Haram al-Sharif in its entirety of 144,000 square metres is a place of worship exclusively for Muslims, and that the Jordanian Department of the Jerusalem Awqaf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs is the only entity authorized to manage all affairs related to Aqsa Mosque, and regulate access to it, she underscored. Highlighting UNRWA’s pivotal role in promoting regional stability, she called on all Member States to support the renewal of its mandate and to support proposals aimed at increasing its funding from the United Nations general budget. She called on the Council to shoulder its responsibilities to ensure that Israel ceases its continuing violations of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, as well as its unilateral provocations in the occupied territories.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan), speaking on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said the constantly deteriorating and extremely volatile situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, is getting worse. That is due to the escalation of Israeli human rights violations, breaches of international humanitarian law, and recurrent brutal and criminal assaults that claim scores of innocent lives and hundreds of wounded Palestinian civilians, including children and women. He expressed deep concern over the situation in East Jerusalem, due to the repeated violations and daily incursions by Israeli extremist settler groups and occupation forces into Aqsa Mosque/Haram al-Sharif, along with their ongoing attempts to impose spatial and temporal division of the Islamic holy shrine, in contravention of international law and relevant resolutions of the Security Council and in violation of the historic and legal status quo at the holy sites. “These violations hurt and provoke the feelings of all Muslims across the globe, and threaten to ignite a dangerous religious conflict, which will gravely jeopardize stability and fuel violence in the region and beyond,” he stressed. He went on to welcome the efforts of King Mohammed VI of Morocco, Chairman of Al-Quds Committee, in protecting the Islamic holy sites in Al-Quds Al-Sharif, and the signing of the Declaration of Algiers on 13 October.
Reaffirming that the historical and legal status quo at the holy sites in East Jerusalem must be maintained and respected, he called upon international actors, including the Council, to take urgent steps to stop the assaults, ensure protection for Palestinian civilians in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and to ensure accountability and justice for the crimes being committed by Israeli forces. Further, he expressed concern about the situation of 50 Palestinian political prisoners who began a mass hunger strike in September to protest abuses by Israel against those placed in detention and stressed the need for that country to be held accountable for such treatment.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) commended the achievement of an agreement on the Israel-Lebanon maritime boundary as well as the mediation efforts by the United States as significant meaningful steps that will contribute to confidence-building, tension reduction and stability in the region. Citing the challenge of the Palestinian issue, among others, he noted leaders of Israel and Palestine voiced support for a two-State solution during the general debate. He expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation and growing number of casualties in parts of the West Bank, calling on the parties to refrain from provocative actions and unilateral measures that undermine the prospects of a two-State solution — including Israeli settlement activities, demolitions and evictions that constitute violations of international law. During a recent meeting between his country’s Foreign Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, and 16 Arab Ambassadors to Japan, they emphasized the need for the international community to continue its support for Middle East peace so that hope is not lost in the face of a stalled peace process. With soaring global food and fuel prices making life even more difficult for Palestinian refugees, he noted Japan has contributed approximately $30 million to UNRWA in 2022, including $6.8 million in food assistance.
NACIM GAOUAOUI (Algeria) stressed that the international community, including the Council, remains unable to provide any new initiatives to break the stalemate and the paralysis that has characterized the Palestinian question. Sharing that his Government hosted the reconciliation talks among Palestinian factions which culminated in the adoption of the Algiers Declaration, he added that the Declaration points to the importance of holding elections within one year of its signing while emphasizing the unity under PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Recalling that the Arab Peace Initiative remains one of the most important “terms of reference”, he expressed hope that the upcoming Arab League Summit in his country will generate momentum towards resolving this issue.
AMIR SAEID JALIL IRAVANI (Iran) expressed concern about the deteriorating situation in Palestine, with 2022 being the deadliest year for the Palestinian people since 2006. He went on to denounced Israel for its “oppressive, expansionist and apartheid practices” and its systematic violation of the human rights of Palestinians, by killing people, including women and children, stealing and demolishing the property of Palestinians, and forcibly evicting them from their homes. Stating that as Gaza has become the world’s largest prison, he condemned the unceasing crimes that have been committed against the Palestinian people for 74 years, without Israel facing any consequences. He called on the Council to lend effective support — not just its sympathy — to ending the occupation. Stating that Israel brazenly violates all United Nations resolutions, including Council resolutions, he said the 15-member organ’s silence — and carte blanche provided by a permanent Council member — have led to these resolutions remaining only on paper. The conflict can only be resolved if the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people are restored to them. He went on to condemn “reckless and belligerent” statements by the representative of Israel, and rejected the unfounded claims made by the representative of Albania, which deviated from the topic under discussion.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Türkiye), voicing concern over the lack of progress in solving the Israel-Palestine conflict, also expressed frustration at the lack of interest by the international community to find a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to this longest standing conflict on the United Nations agenda. Noting that unilateral actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continue to undermine the prospects of a two-State solution, he stressed the need to return to the path of negotiations to make progress towards lasting peace and security. Welcoming the positive outcome of the national reconciliation conference among Palestinian factions held in October under Algeria’s auspices, he encouraged all Palestinian groups to continue working towards unity and reconciliation. Stating that assisting the Palestine refugees is a joint responsibility of the international community, he encouraged all parties to provide financial support to UNRWA.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) recalled that the two-State solution has been agreed upon by the international community. “We will not be able to achieve another political solution for an independent Palestinian State,” he added. Morocco has exerted myriad political and diplomatic efforts to conserve the status of Jerusalem as the common heritage of humankind. It has worked to preserve Jerusalem’s legal and historic status for the three monotheistic religions. Morocco also aimed to preserve the rights of Muslims and Palestinians by funding many educational, health and construction projects. It has promoted cooperation between Christians and Muslims and contributed aid and funds to UNRWA. Morocco continues to appeal to all stakeholders to return to the negotiating table to find a solution and ensure the prosperity of both Palestinians and Israelis. Further, he condemned the attack carried out by the Houthis on 21 October against a ship, adding that Morocco stands with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries who oppose such attacks.
BJÖRN OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, reiterated the bloc’s opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and activities, while condemning the indiscriminate launching of rockets by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups into Israel. He urged all Palestinian factions to engage in good faith in the reconciliation process, to adhere to previous agreements, renounce violence and terrorism, and recognize Israel’s right to exist and to commit to democratic principles. Turning to Syria, he emphasized that no normalization, lifting of sanctions or reconstruction will be possible until the regime engages in a credible sustainable and inclusive a political transition, in the framework of Council resolution 2254 (2015). Recalling that all parties responsible for breaches of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights law must be held accountable, he reiterated that the situation in Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court.
ADEL BEN LAGHA (Tunisia) noted the escalation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with victims including women and children, expressing fear that the situation will spin out of control, becoming a cycle of destruction. Condemning the systematic aggressive practices of Israel and daily violations of Palestinian rights, he called for an end to settlement activity and the destruction of housing. The international community must act rapidly to protect civilians, ending impunity for settlers and the disproportionate use of force. Noting the occupying Power is increasing violations and undermining Council authority, he demanded an end to its racist and discriminatory policies, its evictions of Palestinians, seizure of property and its blockade of Gaza. He voiced support for the State of Palestine’s request to become a full member of United Nations, calling for UNRWA’s mandate to be renewed with lasting funding.
CRISTIAN ESPINOSA CAÑIZARES (Ecuador) said the Palestinian people will be relieved of their difficult situation only through a political, peaceful, lasting and fair solution for the parties, based on the existence of two States, Palestine and Israel, within the 1967 recognized borders. It is indispensable to bring an end to acts of violence against the civilian population and to respect the lives and security of people, in accordance with international humanitarian law, he said, calling for an end to the spiral of violence. The hostility between the parties, which has entailed destruction and death, is unacceptable, particularly as both nations are obliged to abide by the norms of international law, he stressed. He called on the parties to make collective efforts to launch credible negotiations and step up regional and international diplomatic efforts to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Voicing concern about the continuation of settlement activities, he echoed the Council’s call for both parties to demonstrate calm and restraint, as well as political will, and to act in accordance with international law.
RAZALI ISMAIL (Malaysia), associating himself with OIC, stating that 2022 has been a horrific year for the Palestinian people, deplored the merciless killings, ongoing evictions, as well as confiscation of houses and land in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “The situation on the ground worsens, without a durable solution in sight,” he stressed, calling on the Council to not be “silent and indisposed”, but to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people and hold perpetrators accountable. The Council must urge Israel to end its occupation in line with Council resolutions, including resolutions 904 (1994) and 2334 (2016). The only way forward is through the realization of a two-State solution along 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital. “It is high time for the international community to recognize the statehood of Palestine with full membership in the United Nations,” he stressed.
DANG HOANG GIANG (Viet Nam) expressed deep concern over the inflammatory rhetoric and continued plans for further Israeli settlements and evictions of Palestinian people from their homes. “Without a comprehensive, just and long-standing solution, it is only a matter of time when the next cycle of violence comes back,” he warned, calling on all parties to work to revive the peace process. “There is no alternative to the two-State solution,” he stressed, calling on all parties to implement Security Council resolution 2334 (2016). All the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank constitute a flagrant violation of international law. They also “systematically erode” the possibility of establishing a “viable and contiguous” Palestinian State, he said. The use of excessive force against “hopeless and disadvantaged” Palestinians can never bring about lasting peace, but only ignite more violence. The security of Israel must be respected as well but it is in that country’s security interests to implement resolution 2334 (2016). Further, he commended the efforts of various agencies including UNRWA in bringing relief to the Palestinian people.
ABDULAZIZ M. ALWASIL (Saudi Arabia), speaking on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, stressed the need for the international community to make every effort to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict in a way that guarantees all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. Stressing the need to refrain from taking any unilateral measures, he condemned the Israeli settlement policies and measures in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the annexation of lands, the construction and expansion of settlements, the forced displacement of Palestinian residents as well as the destruction of their property. He further called on Israel to respond to the calls for peace and take part in serious negotiations to achieve peace based on the two-State solution.
ARRMANATHA CHRISTIAWAN NASIR (Indonesia) called on the Council to take action to end the atrocities and human rights violations committed by Israel in the illegal occupied territories. “For more than half a century the people of Palestine have lived under duress,” he said. The Council’s inaction has sent a powerful signal of acceptance of Israel’s occupation and violence against the Palestinians. He called on the international community to continue to provide assistance where it is needed, including for UNRWA. Illegal settlements and provocations towards holy sites have further created instability and widespread violence. A sense of impunity will remain if the Council does nothing to ensure that the perpetrators and the occupying Power upholds its responsibilities under international law and international humanitarian law. “We must remain resolute to maintain the two-State solution as the only option for solving the Palestinian issue,” he said.
JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, noted the situation continues to deteriorate day by day. A clear example is the collective punishment in the Gaza Strip — the largest prison in the world — which has been subject to a criminal blockade for more than 15 years, resulting in a disastrous humanitarian situation for more than two million Palestinians. The international community and Council cannot continue to stand idly by in the face of policies of aggression, settler occupation and apartheid that have resulted in the death of more than 10,000 Palestinians, including at least 2,000 children in the last 20 years. Israel must be held accountable before international courts for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed over the years. As long as policies including “shoot to kill” and indiscriminate aerial bombardment continue, the international community must adopt measures that guarantee protection for the Palestinian people. The Council, he stressed, has the ethical, political and moral duty to put an end to double standards, as well as to non-existent exceptionalism.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) emphasized that it is only when Foreign Ministers of the European Union and other world leaders cease to give Israel the “latitude” to violate international law, that they may indeed start to respect the international law, the Charter of the United Nations and Council resolutions. As members of the international community, she added, Member States have an obligation to ensure that international law is not violated indiscriminately and to stop Israel’s repeated attacks against innocent civilians. In this regard, she stressed the need to intensify the call for international action, with the United Nations playing a leading role, to find a solution which is premised on a just settlement with just laws that are rights-based.
FAISAL GH A. T. M. ALENEZI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Gulf Cooperation Council, condemned the crimes of Israel, the occupying Power, against Palestinians, as well as the Aqsa Mosque, stressing that they threaten freedom of worship and undermine stability in the region. He further condemned the Israeli occupation authorities’ “wild aggression” against Palestinian towns and warned against the consequences of that dangerous military escalation. He called on the international community to immediately and quickly undertake measures to ensure the protection of the Palestinian people, and on the Council to shoulder its responsibility as defined in the Charter of the United Nations, stressing that the occupying Power must be held accountable for its crimes and illegal provocative actions. Noting UNRWA’s vital role in alleviating the suffering of Palestinian refugees, he called for the international community’s continued support of the Agency so that it can continue to provide health, education and rescue services. He welcomed the Australia’s announcement rescinding the recognition by its former Government of West Jerusalem as capital of Israel and called on all those States who recognized Jerusalem as the “so called capital” of the Israeli occupation to do the same as Australia and go back on those decisions, which contradict international legal rule.
MAGED ABEDLFATTAH ABDELAZIZ, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, in its capacity as observer, pointed out that it is illogical that Israel condemns the Russian Federation in its occupation of parts of the Ukrainian territories while continuing its settlement activities in violation of Council resolution 2334 (2016). Stating that it is insufficient for the Israeli leadership to express their support for the two-State solution, he asserted that they should translate words into practical deeds by engaging in serious negotiations with Palestinians. He stressed the need for international resolutions and movements that will “expand the circle of international recognition of the Palestine State” while also giving Palestine full membership in the United Nations. He further warned that the failure of the Council to address the Palestinian question will lead to greater reliance on the General Assembly, Human Rights Council, International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court to promote the power of democracy, human rights and law.
BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria) deplored ongoing aggressive Israeli practices that push the region to unprecedented levels of tension and instability, including massacres of civilians in occupied Palestine, as well as continued policies of settlement, Judaization, siege, arbitrary detention, forced displacement and racial discrimination in the occupied Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan. Syria reaffirms support for the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent, sovereign State with Jerusalem as its capital, and to guarantee the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland, in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. Also affirming support for Palestine’s decision to obtain membership in the United Nations, he requested that the acceptance of this membership not be obstructed by some members of the Security Council. He called on the Council to assume its responsibilities and stop the repeated Israeli attacks on Syrian sovereignty, and to hold the occupation authorities accountable for all their violations and aggressive practices. He went on to express surprise that the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process insisted on leaving out from his briefings Israeli practices in the occupied Syrian Golan, including its military attacks on Syrian sovereignty. Responding to the statement by the observer for the European Union, he pointed out that it included issues related to his country which have nothing to do with the topic of the meeting, “to distract the attention of the Council from aggressive Israeli practices”. He called on the European Union to “correct its compass, stop its hostile policies against Syria, and lift its measures that punish the Syrian people”.
KIM DONGJOON (Republic of Korea), voicing concern about ongoing settler-related violence in the West Bank and in and around Jerusalem, stressed that any violence against civilians must stop immediately, and those who are responsible for such acts must be held accountable. Recalling the affirmation of support for the two-State solution by Israel and Palestine, s/he expressed hope that those positive signs will translate into concrete and constructive steps towards a negotiated sustainable political solution for lasting peace in the region. S/He welcomed the signing of the Declaration of Algiers by 14 Palestinian factions on 13 October, voicing hope that it will provide an impetus towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation. Noting the deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, s/he said his Government remains steadfast in its support for UNRWA, including contributions for vocational, education and food assistance activities.
SARHAD SARDAR ABDULRAHMAN FATAH (Iraq), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said the two-State solution is the only fair settlement to the Palestinian issue and urged the international community to take steps to bring an end to Israel’s escalation. Peace cannot be achieved through the continuance of settlement building activities and expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. The Arab Group calls for international protection to be granted to the Palestinian people and reiterates its commitment to finding a resolution to the Israeli-Arab conflict in line with the relevant and internationally recognized resolutions. He called on the Security Council to play its role in bringing an end to the Israeli occupation and to fully withdraw Israeli settlers from occupied territories.
The Arab Group expresses concern over the continuing attacks on civilians, Palestinian towns and holy sites by Israeli armed forces and groups of settlers. He welcomed the role played by Jordan to preserve the historical nature of holy sites. The Group hails the recent signing of the Algiers Declaration by Palestinian factions, he said, welcoming efforts aimed at achieving Palestinian reconciliation. He further urged the international community to make all possible efforts to guarantee the national rights of the Palestinian people, particularly and most importantly, its right to self-determination.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) noted his country has always promoted international partnership and cooperation based on values of mutual respect dialogue and peaceful coexistence. He stressed that the international community must meet the aspirations of the Palestinian people to live in a peaceful, stable and prosperous country, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Welcoming the agreement signed by Lebanon and Israel on maritime demarcation, he called it a historic opportunity illustrating the importance of common understanding and dialogue in settling conflicts. On Yemen, he denounced the refusal of the terrorist Houthi group to accept a truce, proving its intention to continue military activities in the country and beyond to achieve its illegitimate goals. He further condemned the dangerous escalation, with the Houthis using drones on a port in a clear violation of international laws.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), associating herself with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said negotiations between the two parties are the best way to arrive at a two-State solution, calling on the international community to facilitate the peace process and resolve outstanding issues. Noting the importance of resolving the issue of Jerusalem for the ultimate settlement, she said everything that undermines the status of the holy sites, any attempt to Judaize or limit Muslims in the Aqsa area would be null and void under international law. Voicing concern about the most recent attempt by settlers against the Aqsa Mosque, she said the international community must shoulder its moral and legal responsibility to protect Palestinians and the holy sites. The Government of Australia’s announcement to cancel its recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in line with international consensus and resolutions, strengthens international efforts towards a two-State solution. Qatar is preparing to host the World Cup in November — the first time in the region, she said, voicing hope that that historic event will bring goodwill among people and a positive influence on the peace process.
NEVILLE GERTZE, Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, in its capacity as observer, stated that the recent escalation of tensions in the West Bank brings the parties further away from reaching a consensus to achieve peace in the Middle East. Reiterating that the historic and legal status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem must be upheld and respected by all parties, he noted that the ongoing expansion of illegal settlements and settler-related violence calls for decisive action. He further called on Israel to adhere to its obligations under international law and relevant resolutions as well as to halt the transfer of its population to the occupied territory. In this regard he urged Member States to renew the mandate of UNRWA and to continue their financial support to the Agency.
PEDRO LUIS PEDROSO CUESTA (Cuba), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Palestinian people are suffering from the Israeli practices of apartheid and condemned double standards and political manipulation that are harming the cause of international peace and security. He condemned unilateral decisions by the United States Government recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and establishing its diplomatic representation in that city. Cuba reaffirms its support for a two-State solution that allows the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination. Cuba will continue to “decisively support” the joining of Palestine as a full member of the United Nations and demand the end to external interference in Syria and the full respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Turning to Iran, he reiterated support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and rejected the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from the agreement.
TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the question of Palestine must remain on the group’s agenda and on the permanent agenda of the General Assembly. He reaffirmed that the ongoing injustice of the decades long occupation continues to pose a threat to regional peace and security, depriving the Palestinian people of their unalienable rights. The issue is not intractable, he stressed, as the international consensus on a just solution is firm and clear, and there is an abundance of multilateral and diplomatic tools to achieve a peaceful solution, to be used responsibly and urgently. He urged the Council to uphold its duty and implement its own resolutions, as the question of Palestine cannot be the exception to international law. He expressed concern over use of the veto by one permanent member, calling on the Council to overcome its paralysis. He called for respect of the status quo over holy sites, and underlined the importance of UNRWA. He further called on Israel to withdraw from the Syrian Golan and Lebanon.
NOOR QAMAR SULAIMAN (Brunei Darussalam) called on the international community to sustain its attention and efforts in ensuring that Palestinians’ rights and freedoms continue to be addressed with utmost priority. Voicing concern about the deteriorating security situation and escalating instability in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, she condemned the repeated blatant violations of Palestinians’ human rights as well as the “deplorable” actions by the occupying Power against international law and Council resolutions. The international community must remain resolute in upholding the two-State solution towards achieving an independent State of Palestine based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, she said, calling on the occupying Power to cease all forms of aggressions, atrocities and unfair practices against the Palestinians. “Palestine deserves the same opportunities, like all of us here in this family of nations, to pursue a better future for its people,” she stressed, voicing support for its full membership at the United Nations as a step towards the sovereign independent State of Palestine.