Surge in Israeli-Palestinian Violence Must be ‘Wake-up Call’ for Global Community to Redouble Efforts towards Achieving Peace, Delegate Tells Security Council
The security situation in the West Bank has significantly deteriorated, highlighted by the most intensive Israeli operation in nearly 20 years, further jeopardizing the Israel-Palestine peace process, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.
Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, said that from 27 June through 24 July in the occupied West Bank, 25 Palestinians, including 5 children, were killed, and 249 Palestinians were injured by Israeli security forces. According to Israel, 2 Israeli security forces personnel were killed while another 39 Israelis were injured by Palestinians.
“This deterioration is taking place alongside ongoing unilateral steps that undermine a two-State solution, the absence of a peace process and the continuing economic challenges facing Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority,” he stressed.
On 3 and 4 July in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, Israeli security forces carried out an operation marked by multiple drone strikes and over 1,000 ground troops. Twelve Palestinians, including four children, were killed and over 140 injured — the most in a single operation in the West Bank since the United Nations began tracking casualties in 2005. Palestinian Islamic Jihad al‑Quds Brigades claimed 8 of the 12 fatalities as members, including children.
Israeli settler violence continues, albeit not at the scale witnessed in June, he pointed out, reminding Israel of its responsibility to abide by international humanitarian law when carrying out security measures. The funding gap faced by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is of grave concern, he went on to say, urging the international community to contribute the $200 million the Agency urgently needs to maintain services from September onwards.
When the floor opened for discussion, the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that there are more than 700,000 Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. “So, let us start by calling things by their name,” he urged, stating that “the Israeli occupation is a settler-colonial occupation”, and that the only way the international community can end it is to address its settler-colonial nature.
“We need an action plan, with the necessary resources and the will to implement it,” he stressed. The International Criminal Court investigations must start yielding results by providing justice for victims and deterring perpetrators. The International Court of Justice advisory opinion will give the United Nations and all States guidance on their legal obligations.
Israel’s representative said that Palestine poisons the minds of children and fosters hate-filled youth. Among the recent victims of Palestinian violence was a pregnant Israeli woman who lost her baby when she was run over by a Hamas truck. In Jenin refugee camp, Israel conducted two days of counter-terrorism operations with surgical precision targeting terrorists and avoiding civilian casualties.
In total, 12 Palestinian terrorists were killed, and Israeli forces found tunnels and explosive devices and weapons stored there, he said. Yet, the Secretary-General did not commend Israel for uprooting terrorists, but instead repeated Palestinian lies. Noting the growing tensions at the border with Lebanon, he urged the Council to hold an emergency meeting before it’s too late.
The representative of the United States urged all parties to take proactive measures to counter all forms of violence and to ensure that justice and accountability are pursued with equal rigour in all cases. Israel faces real security challenges, he said, expressing support for the country’s legitimate right to defend its people — including against the threats posed by Hamas.
Trust between the parties is at rock-bottom, France’s delegate pointed out, condemning all attacks targeting civilians — both Israeli and Palestinian. While condemning terrorist acts against Israel and reiterating unwavering commitment to that country’s security, he also condemned the continued Israeli colonization of the Territory. “That is why France will never recognize the illegal annexation of territories, nor the legalization of illegal settlements,” he added.
Responding to the Israel’s delegate that tensions were growing at its border, Lebanon’s representative asked: “Isn’t it a coincidence to find heightened Israeli aggression and provocation when we count down to the Security Council meeting for renewing the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon?” Such unhinged attempts aim to push her country to undertake actions “that might show Lebanon as the party that should be condemned and blamed”, she added.
Iran’s representative pledged Tehran’s support to Palestine’s legitimate right to resist oppression and aggression. The purpose of Israel’s “baseless claims and falsehoods” against his country is to divert attention from the appalling atrocity crimes perpetrated by the apartheid regime against the Palestinian people.
Many speakers urged both the Israelis and Palestinians to recommit to the two-State solution to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive solution for the Palestinian question.
Mozambique’s delegate stressed that the two-State solution is the prime issue which needs to be dealt with immediately. The recent surge in violence should serve as a wake-up call for action and for all Council members to redouble efforts towards a lasting peace in the Middle East.
KHALED KHIARI, Assistant Secretary-General for Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, said the deterioration of the security situation in the West Bank has continued, punctuated by a two-day Israeli operation in Jenin — the most intensive of its kind in nearly 20 years. “This deterioration is taking place alongside ongoing unilateral steps that undermine a two-State solution, the absence of a peace process and the continuing economic challenges facing Palestinians and the Palestinian Authority,” he stressed. From 27 June through 24 July in the occupied West Bank, 25 Palestinians, including 5 children, were killed, and 249 Palestinians, including 5 women and 22 children, were injured by Israeli security forces during demonstrations, clashes, search and arrest operations, and attacks and alleged attacks against Israelis. Another 20 Palestinians, including 1 woman, and 5 children were injured by Israeli settlers or other civilians in shooting attacks and stone-throwing.
According to Israeli sources, two Israeli security forces personnel were killed while another 39 Israelis, including 4 women, 3 children and 8 Israeli security forces personnel were injured by Palestinians in shooting and ramming attacks, the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails, and other incidents. “The period saw a significant escalation in the ongoing wave of violence in the West Bank,” he continued. From 3 to 4 July in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, Israeli security forces carried out an operation marked by multiple drone strikes and over 1,000 ground troops. Twelve Palestinians, including four children, were killed and over 140 injured — the most in a single operation in the West Bank since the United Nations began tracking casualties in 2005. Palestinian Islamic Jihad al-Quds Brigades claimed 8 of the 12 fatalities as members, including children.
During the reporting period, Palestinians carried out several attacks or alleged attacks against Israelis, including ramming attacks and stabbings, injuring several Israeli civilians, including a pregnant woman, he continued. The period also witnessed Palestinians attempting to launch rudimentary rockets from the Jenin area towards Israel or Israeli settlements. Israeli settler violence continues, albeit not at the scale witnessed in June. Amid the escalating violence the Palestinian security forces conducted a series of arrests across the occupied West Bank. And while the situation in Gaza remained relatively calm, militants fired five rockets from there towards Israel, responding to the operation in Jenin on 4 July. All were intercepted by Israel. Israeli security forces, in response, carried out air strikes.
“I reiterate that acts of terror and the targeting of civilians are unacceptable and must be condemned and rejected by all,” he stressed. Israel has an obligation to protect Palestinians and their property in occupied Palestinian territory and ensure independent investigations into all acts of violence. Security forces must exercise maximum restraints and use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable to protect life. Children must never be the targets of violence or put in harm’s way. The indiscriminate launching of rockets by Palestinian militants towards Israeli population centres must cease immediately. He said that the humanitarian situation in the occupied West Bank remains concerning and the large Israeli security forces’ operation in Jenin refugee camp has had a devastating humanitarian toll on the camp and its residents. Expressing deep alarm over the funding gap facing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he stressed that $200 million is urgently needed to maintain services from September onwards, and $75 million to sustain the food pipeline in Gaza.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said the Israeli Government is one of the settlers, by the settlers and for the settlers. There are more than 700,000 Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. “So, let us start by calling things by their name,” he urged, stating that “the Israeli occupation is a settler-colonial occupation” and that the only way the international community can end it is to address its settler-colonial nature. United Nations resolutions must be translated into an action plan, with measures to be taken by every peace-loving State to dissuade Israel from entrenching its occupation. Israel has effectively annexed large parts of Palestinian territory and restricted Palestinians into disconnected enclaves. “Confinement for Palestinians, expansion for Israeli settlements,” he observed, adding: “It wants maximum Palestinian land with minimum Palestinians. If it can build Israeli settlements and destroy Palestinian homes without consequences, it will continue doing so.”
Against that backdrop, he called on the international community to hold accountable the settlers who walk into Palestinian villages and destroy homes, crops and wreak havoc in the streets. “We need an action plan, with the necessary resources and the will to implement it,” he stressed. The International Criminal Court investigations must start yielding results by providing justice for victims and deterring perpetrators. The International Court of Justice advisory opinion will give the United Nations and all States guidance on their legal obligations. He also urged the international community to protect the lives of Palestinian children, who — from birth — are confronted with killings, forced displacement, arbitrary arrests and destroyed homes and schools. “Protect our children as they are the primary target of the warmongers,” he said, underscoring: “They always come for the next generation. The peacemakers should do the same.”
GILAD MENASHE ERDAN (Israel) noted that today marks the saddest day for Jews, an anniversary of destruction of Jewish holy temples. But, Jewish sovereignty has returned to Jerusalem, a concept Palestinians refuse to accept. Nonetheless, this Council has not focused its attention to the Palestinian arsenal to destroy a Jewish State. Palestine poisons the minds of children and fosters hate-filled youth — a fact not mentioned in the Secretary-General’s latest report on children in armed conflict. The United Nations refuses to verify his country’s report about what’s really happening on the ground. Among the victims of Palestinian violence was a pregnant woman who lost her baby when she was run over by a Hamas truck. This kind of terror must be condemned by all. On the Jenin refugee camp, he said that it has become a hotbed for Palestinian terrorists. Israel conducted two days of counter-terrorism operation there with surgical precision targeting terrorists and avoiding civilian casualties. In total, 12 Palestinian terrorists were killed, he said, adding that not a single civilian was among them. Israel forces found tunnels and explosive devices and weapons stored there.
The Secretary-General did not commend Israel for uprooting terrorists, but instead repeated Palestinian lies, he said. In doing so, he emboldened terrorists. Palestinians only interest is the destruction of his State. Palestinian refugees, generation after generation, remain in refugee camps. Why are they not integrated into society if Palestine’s goal is to establish a State, he asked, adding that all UNRWA accomplished is the perpetuation of the situation. If the goal is to remove obstacles to peace, this must be addressed. Hamas threats must be the focus of this Council, he said, also underlining the threats posed by Iran and its proxies in the region. Tensions are increasing along its border with Lebanon. The consequences will be disastrous if immediate action is not taken, he said, wondering why the Council does not hold an emergency meeting before it’s too late. It’s time for the Council to stand by Israel. If it wants to address true obstacles, it must end Palestinian obstruction.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States), pointing out that the escalating trend of violence in 2023 underscores the fragility of the situation in the West Bank, condemned all extremist violence, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator. While he welcomed statements by top Israeli officials condemning extremist settler violence against Palestinian civilians, he called on the Palestinian authorities to also clearly denounce terrorist acts committed against Israelis. Further, he urged all parties to take proactive measures to counter all forms of violence and to ensure that justice and accountability are pursued with equal rigour in all cases of extremist violence. Israel faces real security challenges, he said, expressing support for the country’s legitimate right to defend its people — including against the threats posed by Hamas. He also warned against Iran’s destabilizing role in the West Bank and Gaza.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland) called for the de-escalation of violence and the protection of civilians, noting that more than 40 children have died since January. He also called on Israel and Palestine to implement the commitments they made in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh, adding that Switzerland considers East Jerusalem to be occupied territory and that its final status must be negotiated between the parties. He also expressed concern that Israel is accelerating settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, recalling that settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to a two-State solution. Holding elections throughout the Territory, including in East Jerusalem, would help to restore the institutional legitimacy and political unity essential for a two-State solution. The parties must return to the path of dialogue and genuine peace talks, he urged.
LILLY STELLA NGYEMA NDONG (Gabon) said she is concerned with the spiral of violence and the deteriorating security situation on the ground. She condemned the killing of civilians, including women and children, and the detention of children. She is also concerned with the continued expansion of settlements, demolitions and expulsions, particularly in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. “This is a clear violation of international law that must cease, especially since it impedes the building of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace,” she said, calling for the respect for the status quo of the holy places in Jerusalem. She again called for funding of UNRWA and the World Food Programme (WFP), which help stabilize the region and provide humanitarian aid. She urged all parties to abide by Council resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016), and to implement the commitments made in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador), condemning acts of violence or terror against civilians, recalled that the parties must comply with international law, including international humanitarian law. Military operations and acts of violence or terror may last only moments or a few days, but their consequences last for long and are sometimes irreversible. Destruction is always easier than rebuilding, and nothing can give a life back, he said. The Council must support any measure or initiative that encourages the parties to resume direct negotiations and renew the political horizon of a solution to the conflict. Expressing his country’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and with the people of Israel who have the right to live in peace, he called for a two-State solution based on the recognized borders of 1967.
VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta) underscored that the deterioration of the security situation on the ground is leading to tragic numbers of Palestinian and Israeli casualties, including children. “It is disheartening to see a generation of Palestinian children so devoid of hope and aspirations, a generation that only knows life under the blockade,” she said, emphasizing that the psychosocial repercussions of these circumstances must not be underestimated. Accordingly, she urged Israel to exercise maximum restraint in the use of live fire and explosives in populated areas, to abide by international humanitarian law and to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza. She recognized UNRWA’s crucial efforts to protect Palestinian refugees, calling on the international community to bolster financial support towards guaranteeing its service provision. She also sounded alarm over the persistent threats to Israeli civilians and security and condemned all instances of discrimination, violent extremism and terror attacks, including indiscriminate rocket fire towards Israel’s territory.
ZHANG JUN (China) said that the Council should prevent the situation from spiralling out of control. Recalling that Israel recently launched its biggest military operation in nearly 20 years, he said it resulted in the death of 12 and the injury of over 100 Palestinians in Jenin, along with the flight of more than 3,000 refugees. “Israel and Palestine are neighbours that cannot be moved away from each other,” he stressed, noting that they should break the cycle of violence and seek common security. Pointing out that settlement-expansion is altering the status quo, he called on Israel to cease these activities and return to the two-State solution. He also called for the removal of the Gaza Strip blockade and encouraged more humanitarian assistance. “The longer action is delayed, the more complex and the graver the situation is, and the greater the difficulty for achieving peace is,” he underscored.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) expressed regret that the period under consideration witnessed some of the worst forms of violent clashes in recent times. “We have seen since the beginning of the year one of the highest numbers of Palestinian fatalities and injury to children and unarmed civilians, as well as the highest number of Israeli military incursions into Gaza, and refugee camps in the occupied Palestinian territories,” he continued. These have been accompanied by widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure and private property, carried out by intense operations and sophisticated weapons. Rockets have continued to also be fired into Israel. Innocent Israeli citizens have been harmed in their normal daily routines. Ghana condemns the interminable cycle of violence and calls on both sides to exercise maximum restraint. Ghana urges renewed support by the international community for a two-State solution to achieve a just lasting and comprehensive solution for the Palestinian question, he added.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) urged all parties to exercise the utmost restraint and refrain from inflammatory actions to prevent further deterioration of the situation. Japan is gravely concerned over repeated visits by an incumbent minister to holy sites in Jerusalem — the latest of which occurred earlier today — and he underlined that all parties must implement the commitments made in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh. Noting that Japan will continue its strong support of UNRWA, he stressed that additional pledges made at the General Assembly pledging conference in June were insufficient to meet the Agency’s 2023 financial needs. “What will be the fate of Palestine refugees if UNRWA's support for basic services ceases in September?”, he asked, adding that Japan has contributed more than $40 million in 2023 so far. A two-State solution continues to be the only viable path, he emphasized.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) said the Jenin refugee camp witnessed one of the most violent incursions in nearly two decades and a return to calm has become an increasingly elusive goal in light of the ongoing illegal practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the prevalence of hate speech. It is imperative for the international community to cease acting as bystanders and prevent exacerbating the current situation by taking a proactive and comprehensive approach, de-escalating tensions, and working towards reviving the Middle East peace process. As such, all available options must be considered for broadening understanding to achieve these goals. A two-State solution must continue to serve as the foundation for all political endeavours. “We cannot allow it to be marginalized under any circumstances,” he said, underscoring the need to halt all settlement activities, which threaten to undermine the two-State formula.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said that regular outbreaks of violence in the West Bank and elsewhere have generated heightened instability throughout the entire region, undermining the prospect of reviving the peace process. The latest illustration of the deteriorating situation was the military operation conducted by the Israeli Defense Forces in Jenin earlier in July — as a result, 500 Palestinian families were forced to flee their homes and more than 10 people died. Moreover, Israel continues to conduct indiscriminate strikes against Syria in the Golan. Highlighting positive trends, he spotlighted improved relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, along with Syria’s return to the League of Arab States. However, he voiced concern over the unilateral decision by the United States and the European Union to freeze the Middle East Quartet’s activity.
SÉRGIO FRANÇA DANESE (Brazil) said that the reconstruction of the Jenin camp will put UNRWA under financial pressure, noting that $23 million will be needed to address the consequences of the military operation. Calling for protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, he condemned all violence against civilians “be they Palestinians or Israelis”. He expressed concern over the Israeli Government’s expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, pointing to the risk of these events spilling over to Gaza. “It is evident that the status quo is unsustainable and requires urgent and sustained attention,” he stressed, observing that mere administration of the conflict is not a viable alternative. The Council has a political responsibility to respond to recent negative developments, he underscored.
PEDRO COMISSÁRIO AFONSO (Mozambique) expressed deep alarm about the bloodshed which has gripped the region in a vicious cycle. “This untenable situation is driving up the death toll and sparking the worst fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank in nearly two decades,” he added. Mozambique regrets the increase in violence, which has resulted in over 150 Palestinians killed by Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. He urged Israel’s security forces to exercise maximum restraint. The recent surge in violence should serve as a wake-up call for action and for all Council members to redouble efforts towards a lasting peace in the Middle East. The two-State solution is the prime issue which needs to be dealt with. Mozambique also expressed concern over the financial crisis facing UNRWA and urged regional and international actors to provide immediate financial support to the Agency.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said that trust between the parties is at rock-bottom, condemning all attacks targeting civilians — both Israeli and Palestinian. Israel’s security imperatives cannot absolve it from complying with its international obligations, including the need to protect civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to use proportionate force. While condemning terrorist acts against Israel and reiterating unwavering commitment to that country’s security, he also condemned the continued Israeli colonization of the Territory. These activities are illegal under international law, fuel tensions on the ground and are a major obstacle to peace. “That is why France will never recognize the illegal annexation of territories, nor the legalization of illegal settlements,” he said, calling on the Israeli Government to end the construction of new housing in the settlements. The Council has a responsibility to defend the two-State solution, he added.
ARIAN SPASSE (Albania) called on Palestinian youth to distance themselves from instigation of violence and extremism. “Youth should lead the change on the ground for themselves and for the future of Palestinian generations,” he emphasized. Strongly condemning settler violence against Palestinian civilians, he called for the full investigation and accountability for those responsible. He also expressed concern over the impact of increased violence on women and children. The plans to advance settlements contradict international law and impede peace efforts, he said, calling for the implementation of Council resolution 2334 (2016) and the strict observance of international law. All unilateral steps that obstruct peace and the viability of a two-State solution must be withdrawn, he warned.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom), Council President for July, speaking in his national capacity, sounded alarm over rising violence across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which, in July, culminated in Israel’s operation in Jenin. To date, 153 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank since January, more than the entirety of all those killed in 2022. She supported the Palestinian Authority’s independent role in securing Area A of the West Bank, as agreed in the Oslo Accords, and urged Israel to support the Palestinian Authority in this endeavour. Condemning all indiscriminate attacks on civilians — including recent terror attacks in Tel Aviv and Kdumim — she urged Israel to reverse the unprecedented scale of settlement advancement in Area C of the West Bank. Settlements are illegal under international law, raise tensions and undermine the prospects for a two-State Solution, she emphasized, calling on Israel to desist from further settlement expansion, demolitions and evictions.
GERARDO PEÑALVER PORTAL, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba, associating himself with the statements to be delivered by the Non-Aligned Movement and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, rejected Israeli settlements, military aggression and colonial practices. Condemning the blockade of Gaza, he stressed: “It is time to put an end to the impunity of Israel.” He expressed support for the State of Palestine’s full membership in the United Nations and echoed its President’s appeal to convene an international peace conference. Welcoming the League of Arab States’ decision to re-admit Syria, he said this will enhance that country’s full reintegration and will contribute to regional stability. He also called for the termination of arbitrary, unilateral coercive measures imposed by Washington, D.C., against sovereign nations in the Middle East, underscoring: “We must put an end to double standards, selectivity and political manipulation.”
JEANNE MRAD (Lebanon) said that the recent egregious aggressions that have been witnessed by the Palestinian people are a stark reminder of what they have lived through for many years. The events that took place in the Jenin refugee camp, especially against children and vulnerable groups, are condemnable. The “hysterical settlement-expansion” undermines any prospects for peace and a two-State solution”, she continued. “The world is silent as if it’s used to such scenes,” she said. Her country is also used to this, with Israel’s daily incursions into southern Lebanon and incursions into its skies. “Isn’t it a coincidence to find heightened Israeli aggression and provocation when we count down to the Security Council meeting for renewing the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon,” she asked.
Such unhinged attempts aim to push her country to undertake actions “that might show Lebanon as the party that should be condemned and blamed”, she continued. Noting her country’s role as Chair of the Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, she said Lebanon has systematically underscored that “the Arabs have taken the initiative always for disarmament”. A party that possesses nuclear arsenals cannot act as a victim, under the pretext of defending itself. Lebanon stresses that it is ready to continue work with UNIFIL to address the situation in its southern region.
NACIM GAOUAOUI (Algeria) said the Palestinian question has escalated due to the activities of the occupying Power, including the aggression in Jenin, the entry into mosques, the settlement policy and the detention of Palestinians. “All of this portends a downward spiral that will go out of control,” he said, adding the impunity enjoyed by the occupying Power has contributed to this trend. He condemned the recent aggression on the Jenin camps. He said the international community must strictly implement all Council resolutions to put an end the policies of the occupying Power. He called on the international community to help reconstruct the damage to Jenin, especially its infrastructure, and noted his Government had contributed $30 million in that regard. He reiterated his delegation’s solidarity with the Palestinian people, who have been under the yoke of occupation for so long. He called on the Council to revitalize all mechanisms, including resolution 904 (1994).
MAHMOUD DAIFALLAH HMOUD (Jordan) called for an end to Israel’s unilateral measures, including the expansion of settlements. Urging Israel to engage in negotiations towards a two-State solution, he said that country’s recent acceleration in licensing settlements violates international law and Council resolutions. He also condemned the storming of the courtyard of the Aqsa Mosque compound by an Israeli minister, insisting that Israel has no sovereignty over occupied Jerusalem. Necessary steps must be taken to prevent a new downward spiral, he urged, rejecting attempts to undermine the Islamic and Christian nature of Jerusalem and stressing that Jordan is the mosque’s sole custodian. Turning to UNRWA underfunding, he spotlighted a ministerial conference that his country and Sweden will co-host in September to mobilize political and financial support for the Agency to continue its services.
AHMAD FAISAL MUHAMAD (Malaysia), Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that, in recent weeks, Israel's excessive use of force and deployment of heavy weaponry against densely populated civilian areas has caused Palestinian casualties, including among children. The raid in the Jenin refugee camp on 19 June — the largest Israeli incursion in the West Bank in 20 years — triggered a cycle of violence resulting in more than 12 Palestinian and 4 Israeli fatalities and fuelled tensions in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Further, systematic attacks by settlers on Palestinian civilians and raids on Palestinian villages, setting fire to dozens of homes and vehicles and agricultural fields, have intensified dramatically. From 20 June to 25 June, Israeli settlers targeted several Palestinian towns and villages in the occupied West Bank, causing extensive damage and terrorizing civilians. Even though Israel condemned such settler attacks, “condemnation is not enough”, he said, calling on Israel to immediately take decisive steps to halt these attacks, ensure accountability and protect Palestinians according to its responsibility as the occupying Power. He stressed that, so far in 2023, Israel has advanced plans for over 10,000 housing units in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, with the clear intent to further colonize and fragment the Palestinian territory and illegally cement its own control.
PAUL BERESFORD-HILL, Permanent Observer for the Sovereign Order of Malta, said the entity was created 900 years ago in Jerusalem, with its first mission to care for sick pilgrims visiting the holy land. Its hospitals soon became a haven of support and care not only for Christians, but also for Muslims and Jews. The Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, run by the Sovereign Order, provides over 30,000 outpatient consultations and examinations annually. Amid an ongoing conflict in Palestine, providing essential health-care services to its people has become increasingly difficult, he said, calling on both the Israeli and Palestinian Governments to fulfil their commitments to the international community. Strikes against places of worship and the intimidation of their congregations tragically reflects a broader international trend not exclusive to Palestine or Israel, but inspired by extremism. Responsible Governments, whether they be on the right or the left, must adhere to the Charter of the United Nations to protect their citizens and guarantee human rights under the rule of law.
MUHAMMAD ABDUL MUHITH (Bangladesh), speaking for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), noted that, while the rest of the world is focused on pursuing sustainable development, a historic injustice continues to obstruct the Palestinian people’s realization of peace and prosperity. “There is no end in sight to this deplorable situation, as Israel continues to evade accountability,” he said, reiterating the call for Israel to cease its settlement activities. Commending King Mohammed VI’s efforts to protect Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem — standing up to the occupying authorities’ measures to “Judaize” the Holy City — he reaffirmed that Haram al-Sharif, with its entire area of 144 dunams, is an exclusive place of worship for Muslims.
He also said that the Jerusalem Waqf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs Department is the competent authority to manage the affairs of respective mosques, while underlining Jordan’s custodial role with regard to Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. Noting that the Algiers declaration was a step towards national unity, he spotlighted the role of Algeria’s President to that end. “Concrete efforts are needed to ensure the compliance of Israel, the occupying Power, with its obligations under international law,” he underscored.
Speaking in his national capacity, he expressed regret that UNRWA’s health centre was destroyed in the recent military aggression, underscoring that Israel has been deliberately targeting human-assistance activities. He also voiced regret over the psychological trauma endured by Palestinian children, noting that many have been illegally detained. In this regard, he called for providing mental and psychosocial support to those individuals.
SOFIAN AKMAL ABD KARIM (Malaysia), associating himself with OIC and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, as well as the statement to be delivered by the Non-Aligned Movement, deplored the indiscriminate incursions of the refugee camps in the West Bank. “We are, as always, dismayed by the deaths of innocent civilians, including women and children,” he stressed. The lack of accountability on the crimes perpetrated by Israel undermines the legitimacy of international law. “The impunity enjoyed by Israel has emboldened it to continue with its systematic oppression of the Palestinian people, through discriminatory policies akin to apartheid,” he continued. Malaysia calls on the Security Council to deliver on its duty as the guardian of international peace and security, stop the double-standard practice when it comes to Israel and end the injustices against the Palestinian people.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that on 5 July, three Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council stated that that Israeli attacks against the Jenin refugee camp may constitute a war crime and had “no justification under international law. The impunity that Israel has enjoyed for its acts of violence over decades only fuels and intensifies the recurring cycle of violence”. The Special Rapporteurs called for Israel to be held accountable under international law. He said the continuing expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and the expulsion and evictions of Palestinians from their properties are illegal and grave violations of Council resolutions and international law, including humanitarian law. He regretted that the Council has been unable to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He urged the Council to implement its own resolutions fully and forcefully on the question of Palestine.
AMIR SAEID IRAVANI (Iran) said that sympathy alone is no longer enough, urging the Council to take responsibility for enforcing its resolutions, act decisively to end the occupation and ensure Palestinian rights are protected. The conflict in Palestine can only be resolved by ending the occupation and recognizing the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination. This requires the full restoration and protection of this right, leading to the establishment of Palestinian sovereignty over the entire Occupied Palestinian Territory. For its part, Tehran will support Palestine’s legitimate right to resist the oppression and aggression of the apartheid regime. Rejecting the representative of Israel’s “baseless claims and falsehoods” against his country, he said the purpose behind these unfounded claims is to divert attention from the appalling atrocity crimes perpetrated by the apartheid regime against the Palestinian people.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said the prosperity of the region is intrinsically linked to the two-State solution. He underscored the need to respect the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including the establishment of a sovereign State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and to avoid anything that could stir tensions in the region. Peace rooted in dialogue is the only way to reach a definitive settlement of the Palestinian issue, he emphasized, reiterating that negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis remain the only way to reach a lasting, permanent solution to this issue.
THIBAULT CAMELLI, representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said the bloc will not recognize changes to the 1967 lines unless agreed by the parties. He reported that, at the seventh Brussels Conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” held on 14 and 15 June, the international community pledged €5.6 billion for 2023 and beyond to support the Syrian people and neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees. The bloc pledged 70 per cent of the total grants — €3.8 billion — while international financial institutions and donors announced €4 billion in concessional loans. This brought the total of grants and loans to €9.6 billion, which is €800 million more than the amount pledged in 2022. He emphasized that the European Union remains the largest donor, having mobilized over €30 billion to support Syrian people in Syria and the region since the 2011 Syrian crisis.
While the European Union took note of the League of Arab States’ decision to readmit Syria, he said the bloc’s position remains unchanged: no normalization, lifting of sanctions or reconstruction will be possible until the Syrian regime engages in a political process. Although the bloc’s restrictive measures do not prevent or restrict humanitarian-relief efforts, the Union decided to apply temporary exemptions to its own sanctions regime to facilitate humanitarian-aid delivery. Reiterating his call for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court, he said the bloc will continue gathering evidence for future legal action. He also commended Syria’s neighbours for hosting refugees for more than a decade, warning against any further displacement in any part of Syria.
AHMED MOHAMED EZZAT AHMED ELSHANDAWILY (Egypt), associating himself with the Arab Group, OIC and the statement to be delivered by the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled that his country “has repeatedly said that ongoing unilateral actions by Israel would lead to the undermining of all efforts to contain the violence and improve the conditions on the ground”. He expressed deep concern over the continuation of settlement expansions, demolitions of homes and violations of the status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem. The situation in the occupied Syrian Golan is not getting any better either. “Israel is trying to install wind turbines under the pretext of electricity-generation,” he said, noting this is a violation of United Nations resolutions and international law. Underscoring that any discussion of genuine Council reform should include something that is “very obvious” — respect for its resolutions — he said that it is impossible to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East unless the Palestinian people obtain their rights.
MONA JUUL (Norway) noted that, in early July, one of the most extensive operations by Israeli military forces in the West Bank in more than 20 years killed 12 Palestinians, including children. If current trends continue, 2023 will be the deadliest year for Palestinians there since United Nations records began in 2004. While recognizing Israel’s legitimate security concerns, she reiterated that its “security forces must exercise the utmost restraint” in their use of force. She recalled that, 30 years ago, the Oslo Accords marked a step towards peace and a two-State solution led by Palestinian and Israeli political figures with a common vision for peace. Stressing that a whole generation of Israelis and Palestinians have not only lost faith in that solution, but never had any, she called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to ensure that generation has a vision for something other than distrust and violence.
WISSAM AJEEB (Syria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab Group, stressed that the Israeli occupation forces continue their barbaric attacks and criminal practices against the Palestinian people, “and our people in the occupied Syrian Golan who confront the Israeli war machine with their bare hands”. Those attacks constitute a war crime and a crime against humanity, while the paralysis of the Council — due to the obstruction of one permanent member — harms its reputation at a time when urgent action is needed. He observed that the recurring political crises faced by the successive Israeli Governments push its leaders to export them. In the occupied Syrian Golan, he pointed to the continued closure of the Quneitra crossing since 2014, the only lifeline that allows those people to communicate with their families in their homeland, Syria. The occupation forces also continue their systematic expansionist policy, building thousands of housing units and imposing demographic change.
He recalled that, last June, large reinforcements of the Israeli occupation forces, accompanied by bulldozers, stormed the Hafayer area in preparation for implementation of its settlement plan of establishing wind turbines. As a result, dozens were injured, some of them seriously, while those forces prevented ambulances from reaching the area and launched a massive campaign of arrests against the people of the Golan. On 19 July, Israeli forces launched an aggression with barrages of missiles from the north of the occupied Syrian Golan, targeting some points in the vicinity of Damascus. He called on the Council to break its silence and urgently assume its responsibilities to end the Israeli occupation of Arab lands, and to implement the relevant United Nations resolutions, foremost of which are Council resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973) and 497 (1981). He noted that his delegation would not respond to allegations by the representative of the European Union.
ANEL BAKYTBEKKYZY (Kazakhstan) echoed concerns over the recent escalation of violence in Jenin, suggesting the revival of dialogue between all sides of the conflict. She reiterated the urgent need to support UNRWA in its critical role in mitigating the deteriorating situation in Gaza. “The current situation, as we witness today, is deepening poverty, unemployment, and consequently, chronic economic regression, which will fuel further conflict,” she stressed. She called on both sides to refrain from violence and to work towards a political settlement on the principle of “two States for two peoples”, guaranteeing the inalienable right of Palestinians to statehood, along with Israel’s right to security. Further, she emphasized that mechanisms and initiatives such as the Road Map for Peace, Arab Peace Initiative and a revival of the Middle East Quartet should be used to resolve the current situation.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, associating himself with the Group of Arab States, said that Israel continues to violate international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory without any international criminal accountability. It is no secret that Israel’s extremist right-wing regime has a malicious goal to undermine a two-State solution that would establish an independent Palestinian State, through measures that change the historical reality of the Territory, such as expanding settlements, displacing Palestinians and confiscating land and structures. What exacerbates the situation is the absence of any chance for settlement through the Middle East Quartet and its inability to hold a meeting.
Despite similarities among situations involving occupation, the Council has chosen to approach these cases with double standards. The way it deals with the Palestinian situation differs from the way it does with the situation in Ukraine, which enjoys all kinds of support from the Council, he pointed out. The League considers it the Council’s duty to protect the Palestinian people. International accountability principles must be applied to the violations committed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Therefore, the League looks forward to an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice that would lay a new solid legal foundation on this matter.
KIM SANGJIN (Republic of Korea) expressed deep concern over the deteriorating security situation in Israel and Palestine and reiterated his country’s firm commitment to contributing to permanent peace in the region. “There is no alternative to a two-State solution,” he said, also expressing his country’s unwavering support for international initiatives to address the Palestinians’ humanitarian and development needs. To this end, Seoul decided to increase its assistance to UNRWA’s programme budget in 2023. He added that his country also will provide additional aid worth $2.5 million to vulnerable populations in Palestine — including Palestinian refugees in the region — through both UNRWA and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
NOEL MANGAOANG NOVICIO (Philippines), emphasizing that the conflict “can never be resolved by violence”, called for continued effort to bring the parties to the negotiating table and bridge the gaps between their positions. He also reaffirmed support for a two-State solution, urging all parties to refrain from unilateral actions that undermine that prospect. On UNRWA, he commended the Agency’s efforts — under extraordinary circumstances — to immediately respond to the humanitarian needs of affected populations, including both refugees and non-refugees. He also welcomed the recent establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab countries, and further, cited recent meetings in Aqaba and Sharm el-Sheikh between representatives of Jordan, Egypt, United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority aimed at de-escalating tensions.
MARWAN ALI NOMAN AL-DOBHANY (Yemen), speaking for the Arab Group, condemned the brutal aggression carried out by the Israeli occupation forces since the beginning of July against the Jenin camp and in other areas of the West Bank. This aggression is part of a cycle of bloody violence perpetrated systematically against the Palestinian people. The Arab Group condemns the forced displacement of Palestinians — especially in occupied East Jerusalem — he stressed, adding that Jerusalem must be protected from attempts to change its historical and legal status. Its Muslim-Christian composition must be preserved. He also expressed concern that Israel feels free to attack civilians, including young people and women, to enter forcefully into homes and schools, and to deliberately target medical establishments and journalists.
PAULA NARVÁEZ OJEDA (Chile) underscored the importance of promoting good‑faith negotiations between Palestine and Israel with the aim of achieving a peace agreement that would allow for two independent, sovereign States with borders defined based on 1967 agreements and other United Nations decisions. She rejected both the violent actions of Hamas and other armed groups and Israel’s recent military operation in Jenin, which included housing demolition, destruction of civilian infrastructure and aerial bombardment. She also called on Israel to abstain from building or expanding its settlements. Reporting that there were 441,600 settlers in the West Bank in 2019, she said that the number increased to 700,000 in 2022. “We should put an end to the humanitarian crisis that is particularly affecting women and children that are refugees,” she emphasized.
JASSIM SAYAR A. J. AL-MAAWDA (Qatar), associating himself with the Arab Group, called for tangible measures to avoid the situation on the ground from deteriorating further. Grave violations by the occupying Power have continued unabated, including in the Jenin camp, and in a “brutal fashion” against Palestinian villages. “These acts are, in fact, part of a long series of crimes perpetrated by the occupation against the defenseless Palestinian people,” he said. The cycle of violence is the expected result of the provocative and dangerous approach against the Palestinian people. He rejected all measures that aim to impede upon the status quo of holy sites. He condemned the policy of Judaization of occupied Jerusalem, “which aims to change the Arab, Muslim and Christian nature of the city”. The trends seen recently in Israel are dangerous. Noting that his Government submitted its written arguments to the International Court of Justice of incidents of illegitimate occupation, he recalled Israel’s obligations under international law.
HELENA NDAPEWA KUZEE (Namibia), associating herself with the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said that no reasonable argument can justify the magnitude of bloodshed and the escalation of violence. Noting that the protracted, illegal occupation of — and Israel’s disproportionate use of force in — the Occupied Palestinian Territory has led to a lack of access to healthcare and education, she deplored the violation of these rights. Further, she reiterated that Israeli settlements violate Palestinian refugees’ rights and present an obstacle to both peace and a two-State solution. Condemning Israel’s two-day military operation in Jenin that destroyed UNRWA’s health centre, she emphasized: “It is only through legally established Statehood that social normalcy, legal equality, economic opportunity and sustainable development can be realized.”
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) expressed support for a lasting comprehensive solution to the Palestinian question and reaffirmed her country’s unwavering commitment to a two-State solution. Citing the continuing violence and loss of life in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, she recalled that the gravity of the situation linked to Israeli settlements has been recognized by the General Assembly and the Security Council. In this regard, she voiced concern over Israel’s decision to legalize outposts and build new homes in existing settlements. On the situation in East Jerusalem, Argentina considers that final status must be defined by the parties in bilateral negotiations, she said, urging them to return to the path of dialogue to achieve a just and lasting peace.
HARI PRABOWO (Indonesia) expressed regret that measures, such as apartheid policies and disproportionate use of force, have become a normalcy. In addition, continuing provocation towards the holy sites causes further escalation of the conflict. “We cannot allow this unceasing culture of impunity to prevail,” he said, calling upon the international community to demand accountability. Indonesia has submitted its written submission to the International Court of Justice regarding its advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation. Citing humanitarian needs, he said that UNRWA continues to work on the front lines of the crisis, providing education and health and social services. The Agency should be granted greater and more sustained funding from the United Nations regular budget. While each “delicate diplomacy” to broaden the political horizon is appreciated, all those efforts and initiatives must be directed towards ensuring the implementation of a two-State solution. “There is no plan B for the two-State solution,” he said.
NARMIN AHANGARI (Azerbaijan), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, called on the Council to overcome its paralysis on the Palestine question and “justly resolve this protracted conflict and tragic injustice”. She expressed concern over the deteriorating situation on the ground, which has been marked by an escalation of Israeli settlement activities, violence, provocation and incitement. Such escalation has led to the tragic loss of civilian life — including children — the detention of thousands of Palestinian civilians and countless other human rights abuses and violations of international law. “Action must be taken immediately to help de-escalate this volatile situation,” she stressed, further calling for full respect for the historic and legal status quo, for Jordan’s custodianship over Christian and Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem and for the sanctity of holy sites.
She also reiterated the Movement’s call for the complete lifting of the illegal Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, which continues to inflict dire humanitarian, social and economic suffering on more than 2 million Palestinians. Urging the international community to provide UNRWA with sufficient and predictable funding, she restated the long-standing need for international protection for the Palestinian people to deter violations, promote the security of the occupied population and prevent the loss of more innocent lives. On the occupied Syrian Golan, she reaffirmed that all measures and actions taken, or to be taken, by Israel — such as its illegal decision of 14 December 1981 — that purported to alter its legal, physical and demographic status are null and void. Israel must, further, withdraw from all Lebanese territories, she said.
CEREN HANDE ÖZGÜR (Türkiye) underscored that the situation in Gaza and the West Bank continues to call for engagement by the international community. Intensified, unlawful settlement activity, demolitions and forcible evictions are eroding the contiguity of Palestinian territory and undermining the viability of the two-State solution. Since the beginning of 2023, the number of illegal settlements has exceeded 13,000 units. Moreover, the violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has reached an alarming level: 224 Palestinians were killed in 2022 — recorded as the deadliest year since 2005 — and since the beginning of 2023, more than 200 Palestinians have lost their lives. She called on the Israeli authorities to take all necessary measures to restrain provocations, emphasizing that the status quo of holy sites in Jerusalem must be upheld. Türkiye will continue in its efforts to de-escalate the situation and to find a viable solution to the Palestinian question, she said.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said that conflicts in the Middle East have kept the region behind in terms of development, peace, stability and security. The Palestinian question remains the central issue in the region, he reiterated, noting that its solution requires a revival of the peace process and the establishment of an independent Palestinian State under the 1967 borders with its capital in East Jerusalem. Underscoring the importance of ending all settlement activities, he also denounced repeated violations of the Aqsa Mosque compound. This affects the feelings of Muslims everywhere, he stressed. Underlining the need to respect Jordan’s custodianship over holy sites, he called for a cessation of activities and actions that undermine the peace process. He also spotlighted Egypt’s efforts to host a summit for Sudan’s neighbours, held in Cairo on 13 July, underscoring the importance of international cooperation.
CAROLYN RODRIGUES-BIRKETT (Guyana), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and OIC, voiced concern over the volatile situation and escalating violence in Palestine that has resulted in loss of life, devasting injuries and the destruction of infrastructure. These events deepen the stalemate in the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict and make a permanent solution appear even more elusive. The deterioration of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the increased displacement of persons further compound the economic difficulties faced by the Palestinian people. She expressed particular concern over the recent killing of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, by air strikes in Gaza. “It is intolerable that children continue to be victims of violence,” she asserted. The latest act of aggression and massive onslaught against Palestinians should not continue, she stressed, calling on the parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law.
MATHU JOYINI (South Africa) condemned Israel’s military operation in Jenin earlier in July, considered one of the deadliest raids in the occupied West Bank in recent years. “The brutality of these attacks — coupled with the loss of human life and damage to civilian infrastructure — is a serious contravention of international humanitarian law,” she added. The international community, she stressed, “cannot allow the selective application of international law in some cases and its total disregard in others”. Israel’s prolonged, illegal occupation of — and increasing expansion of settlements in — the Occupied Palestinian Territory are unjust, perpetuate impunity and violate international law. It is pivotal, therefore, that the Council’s resolutions be enforced. South Africa supports the initiative aimed at refocusing the international agenda on this item towards achieving a two-State solution and establishing a viable Palestinian state, she added.
ABDULAZIZ A. M. A. ALAJMI (Kuwait) said that Israel continues to disregard international calls for it to stop its violations of human rights, the latest of which occurred during its attack on Jenin. Targeting civilians is never acceptable, and he reiterated Kuwait’s categorical rejection of these violations. Israel must abide by its political and humanitarian obligations under international law. He also reaffirmed Kuwait’s constructive engagement to solve the Palestinian question, which remains a top concern and priority for the Arab world. Further, he urged the International Criminal Court to complete its criminal investigation and hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes against the “defenceless Palestinian people”. A comprehensive, just peace will not be possible until such people attain their inalienable rights, he added.
ABDULAZIZ BINMOHAMMED ALWASIL (Saudi Arabia) said that today’s meeting is being held against the backdrop of a highly precarious situation for the Palestinians and the entire region. Israel continues its daily aggression against Palestinians, including the raid of a mosque compound by the Israeli national security minister and its defence forces, contravening international norms and provoking the feelings of Muslims worldwide. Action taken by Israel, including settler violence, undermines peace efforts, he warned, expressing his country’s unwavering support for a two-State solution and an end to occupation. The Council must implement all relevant resolutions to end Israel’s unilateral action, including illegal settlement expansion and an attempt to change the nature of holy sites.
JOAQUÍN A. PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela) said that his country will never stop defending the right of the brotherly Palestinian people to exist in a free, independent and sovereign State of Palestine under the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. The occupying Power has no intention of ending the occupation or its criminal aggression, and its policies are focused on imposing total control on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he stressed, adding: “this is no more than a result of impunity it is provided with by the United States.” Pointing out that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the one of most painful that humanity has faced in the past 75 years, he said the Council cannot continue to delay the adoption of concrete measures to put an end to the Palestinian people’s suffering.