oPt

Addressing Israeli-Palestinian Tensions as They Arise Cannot Replace Efforts to Resolve Core Issues, Deputy Special Coordinator Tells Security Council

9099TH MEETING (AM & PM)

SC/14981

Addressing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians as they arise cannot replace efforts to resolve core issues driving the conflict, a senior United Nations official for the region told the Security Council today, as Council members stressed the need to implement a two-State solution while other delegates criticized the organ’s inability to meaningfully resolve a crisis that has persisted for over 70 years.

Lynn Hastings, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Council that — while the specifics of the conflict fluctuate — “the structural reality has not changed”. Concerning levels of violence against civilians, illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and continuing demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures have resulted in a “growing sense of hopelessness among many Palestinians who see their prospects for statehood, sovereignty and a peaceful future slipping away”. She pointed out that many Israelis “also understand the perils of continuing along the current path”.

She went on to note that soaring commodity prices continue to negatively impact Palestinian lives across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) requires an additional $72 million by September to meet food-assistance needs for 1.1 million Palestinian refugees. While mounting tensions must be dealt with, there is no substitute for a legitimate political process that will resolve the core issues driving the conflict. “If left unaddressed,” she added, “the factors contributing to this corrosive situation will only deteriorate further”.

The observer for the State of Palestine next addressed the Council, stressing that “we know what the future will look like if nothing is done differently”. When an issue occurs, the Palestinian will be deemed guilty and the Israeli will be deemed innocent in Israeli courts, and the world — too accustomed to this pattern of tragedy and injustice — will express dismay and then look away. At a time when the international community rightfully proclaims that Palestinians are entitled to equal freedom, security and prosperity, Israel persists in denying all three, he said, asking: “What will this Security Council and the broader international community do about it?”

The representative of Israel then took the floor to point out that “sadly, nothing noteworthy has been achieved as a result of these debates — nothing for decades”. Highlighting the primary obstacles to peace, he spotlighted the Palestinians’ absurd prerequisite that Israel accept all their radical demands, even before sitting at the table. To move towards a better future, he said that the starting point should be analysing best practices. Recalling United States President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the region, he noted that the evolution of a big part of the Middle East from conflict to coexistence was openly on display for the world to see.

In the ensuing debate, many Council members condemned settler-related and other violence, stressing the need to ensure accountability and end unilateral measures that undermine the viability of a future Palestinian State. Members also highlighted the need to establish a direct political dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Others, expressing support for UNRWA, called for predictable funding for humanitarian aid.

The representative of the United States, updating the Council on President Biden’s recent visit to Israel and the West Bank, said that normalization agreements between countries in the region are important to advance peace between Israel and Palestine and address the needs of the Palestinian people. However, they are not a substitute for a negotiated two-State solution. She added that the United States fully supports UNRWA’s work, recently providing $201 million for critical services.

The speaker for the United Arab Emirates similarly highlighted his country’s $25 million donation to the Al-Makassed Hospital — the backbone of the Palestinian health system — and added that recent diplomatic initiatives reflect a genuine regional effort to achieve peace for all peoples. This can be seen, he pointed out, in the recent Jeddah Security and Development Summit and the I2U2 Summit, which involved India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

China’s representative, pointing out that the question of Palestine has dragged on for more than 70 years, stressed that “piecemeal crisis management is no substitute for a comprehensive, impartial solution”. The security of Israel and Palestine are interdependent and indivisible, and he emphasized that “seeking absolute security by using one’s advantageous position can only lead to a greater security dilemma”. He called on those countries with influence over Israel and Palestine to play their due role in promoting the resumption of peace talks.

When the floor was opened to the wider United Nations membership, Algeria’s representative joined others in stating that the Council has, for years, adopted an approach that has led to the management of conflicts, rather than finding a necessary solution that would end the occupation and provide Palestinians with an avenue for pursuing Statehood. The occupation persists in Israel’s settlement policies and systemic actions that impose the status quo and expose the region to conflict, he emphasized.

Cuba’s representative concurred, noting that — despite repeated calls by many international bodies — the Council has not adopted measures to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and military aggression. The United States has repeatedly blocked Council action and prevented the organ from fulfilling its responsibility under the Charter, hampering broad, fair and lasting solutions to the conflict and guaranteeing Israeli impunity.

On that point, the delegate from Malaysia noted that, as Israel practices extrajudicial killings, torture and killing of children, collective punishment, settlement expansion and evictions, its systematic oppression is tantamount to the crimes of Apartheid. It is high time for accountability, he stressed, calling for Member States to urgently apply Council resolutions to end Israel’s occupation and to work towards a peaceful solution to the conflict.

South Africa’s representative also pointed out that Israel’s imposition of an Apartheid system debilitates any prospect of establishing an independent Palestinian State. Moreover, the Council’s inability to act against Israel — despite its willingness to act decisively on other issues — illustrates the persistent double standards and inconsistency in its work.

The speaker for Lebanon, stating that daily Palestinian casualties are grim proof that the much-promised peace is still a pipe dream, underscored that the key to peace in the region is by ending the occupation. Recalling President Biden’s recent statement that the “ground is not ripe” for new attempts to reach peace, she emphasized that “the ripeness theory” allows for unilateral measures and facts on the ground to end the Palestinians dream of a State of their own.

Japan’s delegate, while also expressing concern over the violence in Israel and the West Bank, voiced hope that evolving regional partnerships in the Middle East will ease tensions and foster regional stability. In this regard, he spotlighted the Negev Forum — involving Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and the United States — along with the work of Japan, Egypt and Jordan to discuss regional peace and prosperity.

Also speaking were the representatives of Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Russian Federation, Albania, Ghana, Gabon, Kenya, India, Norway, Mexico, Brazil, Iran, Morocco, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Türkiye, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Azerbaijan (speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement), Argentina and the Republic of Korea.

A representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, also spoke, as did the Permanent Observers for the Holy See, the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The Vice Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People also made a statement.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m., was suspended at 1:20 p.m., resumed at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 5:00 p.m.

Briefing

LYNN HASTINGS, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Council that, while the specific developments of the conflict fluctuate, “the structural reality has not changed”. Concerning levels of violence against civilians continue to exacerbate mistrust and undermine a peaceful resolution and, for years, illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank has been steadily shrinking the land available to Palestinians for development and livelihoods. Further, 399 demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures in 2022 have left over 400 Palestinians displaced. “There is a growing sense of hopelessness among many Palestinians who see their prospects for statehood, sovereignty and a peaceful future slipping away,” she said, noting that many Israelis “also understand the perils of continuing along the current path”. Recalling United States President Joseph Biden’s recent visit to the region, which “signalled renewed consensus for a two-State solution based on the 1967 lines”, she urged collective work to encourage steps that allow for a return to a meaningful political process.

Detailing daily violence throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory during the reporting period, she also pointed out that settler-related violence has continued, with particularly concerning incidents in the West Bank community of Ras al-Tin. She recalled that, on 20-21 July, thousands of Israelis participated in a widely publicized campaign to establish settlement outposts across the West Bank and that, in advance of the campaign, Israeli authorities stated such activity is illegal. On 21 July, Israeli security forces removed the seven makeshift encampments, and she welcomed the statements and actions by the Government of Israel to prevent the establishment of new outposts. All settlements are illegal under international law and remain a substantial obstacle to peace, she underscored, also calling on Israeli authorities to end the displacement and eviction of Palestinians and to approve additional plans that would enable Palestinians to build legally and address their development needs.

Turning to Gaza, she said that the situation remains fragile, as efforts by the United Nations and other partners continue to deliver vital humanitarian and development assistance. However, soaring commodity prices continue to negatively impact Palestinian lives across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) requires an additional $72 million by September to meet food assistance needs for 1.1 million Palestinian refugees. Similarly, the World Food Programme (WFP) needs an extra $24 million to continue providing assistance until the end of 2022. Against that backdrop, she welcomed recent announcements by the United States and the European Union confirming their 2022 contributions to UNRWA. Spotlighting the need for immediate steps to reverse negative trends and support the Palestinian people, she underscored that “the violence must stop”. While mounting tensions must be addressed, there is no substitute for a legitimate political process that will resolve the core issues driving the conflict. “If left unaddressed,” she added, “the factors contributing to this corrosive situation will only deteriorate further.”

Statements

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said “we know what the future will look like if nothing is done differently.” The Secretary-General has warned that a repeat of Israeli violations similar to those during May 2021 would lead to listing Israel among the violators of child rights. That was not a one-time event, however, but a persisting pattern across the years of abject disregard for the lives and rights of Palestinian children. This Palestinian generation is full of potential, he stressed, from Hanan Hroub, who received the prize for the world’s best teacher, to Iqbal Al Assad, the youngest doctor in the world; however, it is also a story of unrealized potential, including the death of journalists. It is the story of entire families buried under the rubble of their homes, and “over 2 million people trapped by a medieval blockade”, he said — with an oppressor claiming a right to oppress the people and steal the land. “What future for Palestine? What future for Palestinians?” he asked. From the day they are born, Palestinians are acutely aware that they have no control over their lives; that a settler or a soldier has been endowed with a right to take away their life, while enjoying blanket immunity. Whatever happens, the Palestinian will be deemed guilty and the Israeli will be deemed innocent in Israeli courts; the world too accustomed to this pattern of tragedy and injustice will express dismay then look away.

At a time when the international community rightfully proclaims Palestinians are entitled to equal measures of freedom, security and prosperity, Israel persists in denying all three, he said, asking: “What will this Security Council and the broader international community do about it?” United States President Joe Biden’s visit to the region provided an occasion to reaffirm fundamental principles about ending occupation and the conflict, including a two-State solution based on the 1967 borders, opposition to unilateral measures, including settlement activities, demolitions and evictions. However, he noted Israel announced yesterday that it was advancing hundreds of settlement units, including in occupied East Jerusalem. He called for the international community’s political and financial engagement to translate into a common agenda for freedom, justice and peace, and to determine the immediate steps toward that end. Noting that 10 years ago, the General Assembly adopted a historic resolution granting Palestine observer State status, he said it has since demonstrated the ability to be an effective and constructive actor of the international community. “We have every right to be a Member of these United Nations,” he stressed. “We have every right to freedom and independence.” Six years ago, the Council adopted resolution 2334 (2016) setting a clear path to salvaging the two-State solution, ending the occupation and achieving a just and secure peace. “I know everybody around this table and beyond wants peace,” he affirmed. “The only question that remains is: are they ready to do what is necessary to achieve it?”

GILAD ERDAN (Israel) said the biggest threat to the Middle East is the nuclearization of the radical Ayatollah regime in Iran, as well as its terror funding and hegemonic ambitions — threats that are almost never discussed in the Council. “Sadly, nothing noteworthy has been achieved as a result of these debates — nothing for decades,” he said, stressing that the current approach is broken and now is the time to work together to fix it. Highlighting the primary obstacles to peace, he pointed to the Palestinians’ absurd prerequisite that Israel accepts all their radical demands, even before sitting at the table. He noted that the endless incitement to terror stems even from the highest offices of the Palestinian authorities, adding that President Mahmoud Abbas pays hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorists. Despite the heinous actions of Hamas, the Council remains silent, he said, urging its members, on behalf of a father whose son with special needs has been taken hostage by the group, to take action.

To move towards a better future, he said the starting point should be analysing best practices. Recalling United States President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the region, he noted that the evolution of a big part of the Middle East from conflict to coexistence was openly on display for the world to see. Pointing to Israel’s cooperation with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan, he highlighted new initiatives on energy, health care and transportation, among others, adding that Palestinians can also benefit from those gains and collaborative projects if they place the well-being of their people over the breeding of hatred and incitement against Israelis. It is time for the Council to take action against Iran, its nuclear programme and its proxies, he stressed, adding that Hezbollah and Lebanon must no longer “get a free pass”. He expressed hope that future Council debates will reflect a safe and prospering Middle East devoid of terror, teeming with cooperation and coexistence.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), updating the Council on the recent visit of President Biden to Israel and the West Bank this month, said the visit showed the United States’ steadfast commitment to Israel’s security and its determination to bolster its relationship with Palestine, which has roots going back to the 1800s. President Biden held productive meetings with the Israeli President and other Israeli leaders on a full range of issues. He also met with some of the last living Holocaust survivors. She said that normalization agreements between countries in the region are important to advance peace between Israel and Palestine and address the needs of the Palestinian people. Yet they are not a substitute for a negotiated two-State solution. She emphasized the importance of a future in which Israelis and Palestinians can enjoy equal measures of security, freedom and prosperity. President Biden also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank to discuss the United States’ support to strengthen the Palestinian economy and improve the Palestinian people’s quality of life. The United States fully supports UNRWA’s work and recently provided $201 million for critical services. She called on others to join the United States in supporting UNWRA. During his visit, President Biden also announced $15 million in additional humanitarian assistance to support other vulnerable Palestinians. The visit showed the United States remains deeply committed to peace in the Middle East. She urged all parties in the region and around the world to support conditions to create a two-State solution.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said in the first six months of 2022, 60 Palestinians were killed and more than 5,900 injured by Israeli Security Forces, voicing concern over the pervasive culture of impunity for incidents of possible excessive use of force — or even potentially unlawful killings — by these forces. An independent investigation into the killing of Shireen Abu Akleh remains essential. She strongly condemned settler violence and other ideologically motivated violence, describing efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice as “extremely limited”. There is an urgent need to reverse this trend and hold them accountable. Emphasizing that Israel’s settlement activity gravely undermines the prospects of a two-State solution, she said immediate action is required to preserve the viability of this goal. Civil society has a vital role to play in shining a light on violations of international law and promoting accountability, she said, expressing alarm over the reduced space for civil society in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Ireland will continue its strong cooperation with and support for Palestinian civil society, as affirmed by her country and eight other European Member States in a 12 July statement. She also expressed support for the call by the High Commissioner for Human Rights for Israel to revoke the designations against Palestinian civil society organizations as terrorist entities.

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) welcomed Israel’s commitment to restart the Joint Economic Committee and accelerate transition to 4G cellular phone service in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, noting that they are important steps that have the potential to bolster the Palestinian economy. Echoing United States President Biden’s calls for urgent progress in both cases, she said her country stands ready to provide support. However, the situation on the ground remains fragile, she noted, calling on all parties to de-escalate tension and stop the continued loss of life. Voicing concern about the imminent risk of forcible transfer of over 1,000 Palestinians at Masafer Yatta and the recent detention of staff of humanitarian organizations seeking to aid the community, she urged Israel to abide by its obligations under international law to ensure the residents of Masafer Yatta and other communities in Area C are protected, humanitarian access is permitted and to refrain from further evictions and demolitions. She also called on Israel to halt plans to advance 1,900 settlement units in East Jerusalem on 25 July, noting that settlements are illegal under international law and threaten the physical viability of a two-State solution.

NATHALIE BROADHURST (France) said the two-State solution, with Jerusalem as the shared capital, is the only formula that meets the legitimate aspirations of both peoples, upholds Israel's security interests and the stability of the region. There is therefore an urgent need to avoid a deadly spiral similar to that of May 2021 in Gaza. She called for efforts to recreate a political horizon and to address the causes of the deadlock, noting that France will not compromise on Israel’s security and condemning recent rocket attacks targeting its territory. The short-term priority is to end unilateral measures which undermine the viability of a future Palestinian State. While noting Israel’s announcement to ease restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, she condemned plans to extend or create settlements, particularly in the E1 area, the evictions of Palestinian families and demolitions. She further called for the suspension of evictions and demolitions in Masafer Yatta, which violate the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention. Calling for resumed direct political dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians, she welcomed the most recent call between Prime Minister Yair Lapid and President Mahmoud Abbas. In the immediate term, France will support Palestinians through bilateral European Union aid efforts, and its support for UNRWA — all the more important in a global context of food insecurity created by the war in Ukraine.

DMITRY POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), noting that the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict triggers frequent outbreaks of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and undermines regional security, said that the stagnated peace process — compounded by provocative one-sided measures — is liable to result in a “conflagration”. Further, Israel’s settlement and expansion continues to entrench occupation on the west bank of the Jordan river, despite these attempts to create outposts being illegitimate even under Israeli legislation. Against a backdrop of impunity for crimes against the Palestinian people, he underscored the need to strengthen international consensus on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issue on the basis of a two-State solution. To this end, the Russian Federation has consistently advocated the relaunch of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that result in an independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, that accounts for Israel’s security concerns. He advocated support for UNRWA, which is a “key agency for the support of Palestinians in need”.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) condemned terror attacks in Israel by Hamas and other terrorist groups. He called on all parties to avoid actions and provocations that undermine the prospects of peaceful coexistence been Israelis and Palestinians, adding that evictions and settler violence only exacerbate tensions and should be properly investigated. Expressing support for the two-State solution, he said that Israelis and Palestinians have the right to life at peace with one another, with full and equal enjoyment of human rights and freedoms. “Despite difficulties, challenges and setbacks, we should not let this goal fade away,” he said. “Hopes of millions are invested there.” Welcoming the recent visit to the region by United States President Joe Biden, he noted that an improved atmosphere and better relations between countries promotes stability to the benefit of all. It is important that Palestinians are also involved and benefit from that process, he added.

CAROLYN OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated the call on Israel and Palestine, as well as countries in the region, to commit to a negotiated, just and peaceful resolution of the conflict. The aim should be assuring all countries an equal measure of security, freedom, opportunity and dignity. She voiced concern about the worsening security and humanitarian conditions in the region, noting that since March, at least 52 Palestinians, suspected to be armed fighters but also including non-combatants, have been killed in the occupied West Bank. She also expressed concern over the death in Israel of 19 people, mostly civilians, calling for maximum restraint and urging both Israel and Palestine to refrain from unilateral actions that could escalate tensions. The path towards lasting peace runs through the internationally negotiated two-State solution, she said, with Israel and Palestine living side by side on the basis of the 1967 borders. She urged the Council and the wider international community to engage the parties, whose good-faith efforts are needed to resolve this decades-long conflict.

EDWIGE KOUMBY MISSAMBO (Gabon) expressed concern over the exposure of Masafer Yatta to an imminent risk of forced evictions, arbitrary displacements and transfers. She noted the meeting on 7 July between President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel’s Minister for Defense Benny Gantz, which resulted in the latter’s approval of measures aimed at building confidence between the parties — including legalizing the status of 5,500 undocumented Palestinian people, and an additional 1,500 work permits for people in the Gaza Strip. However, she cited the latest report by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on the number of children killed, maimed or victims of other violence. The international community must guarantee predictable funding for humanitarian aid, including to UNRWA, which is working to provide basic services. Without this financial support, there will be a drastic increase in social unrest, she predicted, marked by poverty, hunger and psychosocial problems. She further called on the parties to reach an agreement on the return of human remains to their families.

MOHAMED ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) expressed hope that approvals for the reunification of 5,500 Palestinian families, six structural maps for Palestinians in the West Bank and the reopening of a crossing point into Jenin city in the northern West Bank will restore confidence between Palestine and Israel. However, tensions and violent clashes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory highlight the need for both sides to refrain from provocations, and for all illegal practices to stop, including the construction and expansion of settlements, and confiscation of Palestinian lands and property. These measures undermine the two-State solution and efforts to achieve peace. Noting that the United Arab Emirates recently announced a $25 million donation in support of Al-Makassed Hospital, the backbone of the Palestinian health system, he urged the international community, particularly the Security Council, to seize the opportunities to revive the Middle East Peace Process, adding that recent diplomatic initiatives reflect a genuine regional effort to achieve peace for all peoples. This can be seen in the recent Jeddah Security and Development Summit and the I2U2 Summit [India, Israel, United Arab Emirates, United States] which coincided with the visit of United States President Joe Biden to the region. “We look forward to building on these efforts to achieve security, stability and prosperity for our region and the world,” he said.

MICHAEL KIBONINO (Kenya) noted that the joint statement by the Summit of the Leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the United States highlighted efforts to enhance contributions to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. Such initiatives “speak to what is immediately practical in the context of a missing peace process when it comes to addressing challenges in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem,” he noted, also underlining the importance of championing grassroot efforts that support conditions conducive to official negotiations. Affirming that the goal of Israel and Palestine living side by side within secure and recognized borders along 1979 lines will require commitment by all parties, notably to uphold resolution 2334 (2016), he said such a commitment by Israeli and Palestinian leaders will inject a much-needed hope and trust in the multilateral system. A united response, including ongoing regional efforts to revive intra-Palestinian reconciliation, also can help address the persistent spoilers of peace in the region. He urged armed and militia groups, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, to publicly renounce terrorist acts and genuinely commit to peace efforts facilitated by regional and international mechanisms.

RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India) urged the parties to address urgent security and economic challenges, including the precarious financial situation of the Palestinian Authority. He reiterated the call for early resumption of the political course by launching credible direct negotiations on all final status issues, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians for statehood and Israel’s legitimate security concerns. In response to the UNRWA financial crisis, India has increased its annual pledge from $1.25 million to $5 million, and contributed $20 million over the last four years. Intra-Palestinian unity is critical for the well-being of the Palestinian people, he said, expressing hope that efforts to achieve reconciliation will help overcome the current stalemate, leading to legislative and Presidential elections. He said India has vital stakes in peace and prosperity in the Middle East, noting that the leaders of India, Israel, United Arab Emirates and the United States recently agreed to increase joint investment in six key areas. Given the absence of a political settlement, the international community — in addition to political support for a two-State solution — must expend energies and political capital to reinvigorate the Middle East Peace Process.

MONA JUUL (Norway) said long-term solutions are needed to bring peace and prosperity to the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. A two-State solution — based on the 1967 lines — remains the only viable pathway to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She welcomed the United States’ increased financial support to UNRWA, which delivers critical services to millions of vulnerable Palestine refugees, and the United States’ extension of funding to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, which Norway has long supported. While these are positive steps, it is important not to lose sight of the need for a comprehensive peace process that addresses the underlying drivers of conflict, she said, stressing the urgency of a political path with the ultimate goal of establishing a two-State solution. Noting the important mediation efforts to establish the maritime delimitation line between Israel and Lebanon, she encourages the Governments of both countries to swiftly come to a mutual, beneficial agreement. This should help solve the outstanding issues on the land border. She strongly opposed the use of any military means in and around the disputed areas, which could escalate to a new regional conflict.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) welcomed the recent conversation between the presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, marking the first time in five years that Israel’s Head of Government had spoken with the leader of the Palestinian Authority. These are confidence-building measures, he said, noting that efforts to develop the Palestinian economy and people will lead to prosperity and security for Israelis. He called for progress in the political sphere to tackle the underlying causes of the conflict, underscoring the importance of organizing general elections in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem and Gaza. It is also essential to resume peace negotiations, he said, voicing concern over evictions, the demolition of Palestinian properties, and more broadly, the financial situation of UNWRA, which is crucial for supplying basic services to millions of Palestinians. He condemned rocket attacks from Gaza to Israel’s urban centres, expressing support the two-State solution.

GENG SHUANG(China) said Israel’s settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory continue to “squeeze the living space” of the Palestinian people and undermine the Territory’s contiguity, and he urged Israel to adhere to resolution 2334 (2016) and cease all settlement activities. As the security of Israel and Palestine are interdependent and indivisible, the two sides should find a way to live side by side in peace. “Seeking absolute security by using one’s advantageous position can only lead to a greater security dilemma,” he emphasized. As the occupying Power, Israel should fulfil its obligations under international law to safeguard civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. He pointed out that the question of Palestine has dragged on for more than 70 years, stressing that “piecemeal crisis management is no substitute for a comprehensive, impartial solution”. Therefore, he called on countries with influence over Israel and Palestine to play their due role in promoting the resumption of peace talks.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), Council President for July, said intra-Palestinian reconciliation is a crucial step towards resuming genuine dialogue within the framework of the peace process. International cooperation aimed at restoring and improving basic infrastructure and economic empowerment of the Palestinian population can also improve the prospects for reconciliation. Noting that structural impediments imposed on the Palestinian economy must be addressed, he emphasized that fostering growth is one of the best ways to give peace a concrete meaning. Palestine has great economic potential in many sectors that can create job opportunities and raise family income. This means allowing Palestinian businesspeople to export their products to the world market, he added. Stressing that confidence-building measures on both sides must continue, he commended the Israeli authorities' recent measures aimed at building trust with the Palestinians, including increasing the quota of workers from the Gaza Strip and the opening of a new vehicular crossing on the north of the West Bank, as well as the measures to prevent the establishment of new outposts.

AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon) said the Jeddah Security and Development Summit and United States President Joe Biden’s recent visit illustrated that the Palestinian issue is still central to any peace efforts in the region. However, daily Palestinian casualties are grim proof that the much-promised peace is still a pipe dream. While President Biden reaffirmed the United States commitment to a “two-State solution on the 1967 lines with land swaps mutually agreed on by the Israelis and the Palestinians”, he also said the “ground is not ripe” for new attempts to reach peace. “The argument that the ground is not ripe for a peaceful settlement is as old as the peace process,” she said, adding that “the ripeness theory” allows for unilateral measures and facts on the ground to end the Palestinian dream of a State of their own. The key to peace in the region is by ending the occupation.

Turning to Lebanon, she said Prime Minister Najib Mikati is working to form a new Government, with the aim of ensuring that presidential elections take place on time and in a safe and good atmosphere this fall. Affirming Lebanon’s commitment to the full implementation of resolution 1701 (2006), she called on the other party to the conflict, Israel, to do the same. Israel’s daily violations of Lebanese sovereignty must stop. Lebanon is committed to finding a peaceful solution to its maritime border, guaranteeing national rights to its gas and oil resources, and she urged the international community to help it achieve this goal. The mandate for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) will be up for renewal in a month. The Force is indispensable for stability in south Lebanon in partnership with the army, and plays an important role in peace and security, she said, expressing hope that its mandate will be renewed without any change.

ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), expressing deep concern over the violence in Israel and the West Bank, called for an independent and transparent investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh. He also condemned rocket fire by Palestinian militants in Gaza into Israel hours after United States President Joe Biden’s visit. Underscoring that Israeli settlements in the West Bank flagrantly violate international law, he voiced hope that the evolving regional partnerships in the Middle East, such as the Negev Forum [Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, United States], will ease tensions and foster regional stability. In this context, Japan, Egypt and Jordan are working together through the Trilateral Consultations on the Middle East format to discuss regional peace and prosperity. Japan contributed more than $50 million to UNRWA in 2021 and has already provided $28 million in 2022 to ensure the delivery of lifesaving services. Urging other donors to increase their contributions to the Agency, he affirmed Japan’s determination to spare no effort to achieve a two-State solution.

ZAHRA ERSHADI (Iran) said the situation in occupied Palestine remains dire, as the Israeli regime’s brutality and systematic violations of human rights continue unabated, with settlements continuing in blatant violation of international law and United Nations resolutions. She cited the recent assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh, in line with Israel’s well-documented campaign of harassment and violence against journalists, as well as the murder of 86 Palestinian children and imprisoning of 637 more in 2021. Nearly 2 million Palestinians are “locked” in Gaza, she stressed — a collective punishment, with the continued blockade constituting a clear manifestation of a war crime and crime against humanity. Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity are also violated through prolonged occupation of the Syrian Golan, including the recent terrorist attacks against Damascus International Airport. The Council’s inaction has emboldened the Israeli regime, with the lack of accountability for serious violations contributing to its impunity. She further cited the Israeli representative’s abuse of the forum with false accusations against her country, all of which are categorically rejected — and intended to distract attention from the continuous atrocities and violation of international law. Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of the Israeli regime endanger the entire region, as it has even threatened nuclear annihilation of some States and refused to adhere to any weapons of mass destruction disarmament or control regimes, requiring the Council to condemn it.

MOHAMED ENNADIR LARBAOUI (Algeria) said the Council’s repeated meetings with similar outcomes are never up to par with the sacrifice and suffering of the Palestinian people. For years, the Council has adopted an approach that has led to the management of conflicts and the containment of a temporary violent conflict, rather than finding necessary solution that would end the occupation and provide Palestinians an avenue for pursuing statehood. The occupation persists in Israel’s settlement polices and systemic actions that impose the status quo, exposing the region to conflict. He criticized the expansion of settlements in Arab communities, stressing that the residents of Jerusalem are transferred and detained while Arab institutions are closed and destroyed. For its part, Algeria continues to support the Palestinian people politically, financially and in all manners. The international community and Council must shoulder the responsibility to end to all violations against the Palestinian people, he said, noting that a political and peaceful option is the only way to settle issues at hand.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) expressed regret over the increase in violence, extremism and hate speech, leading to further tension and widening the gap between Palestine and Israel, calling for avoidance of escalation in the region. He noted that on 3 March 2019, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI and Pope Francis had jointly stressed the need to preserve the sacred city of Jerusalem as a heritage for humanity at large, preserving its historic nature as the destination for all three Abrahamic religions. He called on all Palestinians, and residents of Jerusalem in particular, to work on harmonizing the King’s political efforts. He noted the Moroccan leader had mediated the Israeli opening of the Allenby/King Hussein border crossing linking the West Bank to Jordan — the only access to the world for Palestinians, which will facilitate the movement of people and goods. The Palestinian question is central for the Middle East and the stability of the region, he stressed, and Morocco’s position proceeds from a strong belief in diplomatic efforts. He underscored that his delegation will continue to invest in its historic role and unique relationship with all parties to build an environment conducive towards resuming negotiations.

SUDQI ATALLAH ABD ALKADETR AL OMOUSH (Jordan) said that there can be no security, stability or prosperity in the region without a solution that guarantees the building of an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. Rejecting unilateral measures that undermine the prospect of such a solution, he underscored the need to respect the legal and historic status of Jerusalem and holy sites. As the occupying Power, Israel bears responsibility for what happens in that city, and he expressed concern over continued disregard for the status of holy sites in Jerusalem — particularly that of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is under Jordanian custodianship. Reiterating that the Islamic Waqf administration – Department of the Jerusalem Awqaf and Al-Aqsa Mosque Affairs — is the only administration that has international power and authority over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, he stressed that Israel, to preserve calm, must respect the historic status of the compound and other sites. He added support for UNRWA, as its continued efforts to provide necessary services are particularly important for the rights of return and redress.

BASSAM SABBAGH (Syria), recounting various instances of Israeli aggression, said the Arab people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and occupied Syrian Golan are subjected to aggressive practices by Israeli occupation forces in clear violation of international law, the Charter of the United Nations and Council resolutions. Israel continues its endeavours to entrench its occupation of the Syrian Golan and prolong it through the confiscation of more Syrian property and land and stealing of natural resources, while implementing settlement projects and other illegitimate measures. He called on the Council to end its silence and urgently shoulder its responsibility to end the Israeli occupation of Arab land and hold its authorities accountable for its violations and practices. He underscored his country’s right to restore the entire occupied Syrian Golan according to international law, adding that it is a right not governed by any statute of limitations. All measures undertaken by Israeli authorities to annex the Golan or alter its legal or demographic nature or impose any laws, authority or administration upon it are null and void and have no legal impact pursuant to international law, he said.

HEBA MOSTAFA MOSTAFA RIZK (Egypt), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the suffering of the Palestinian people continues with violations committed by Israeli occupation forces with no end in sight. Israeli practices in the West Bank including East Jerusalem have increased in recent years, including actions by settlers against unarmed people, undermining a two-State solution. Live bullets have been used against civilians, leaving hundreds of martyrs, without any accountability for the perpetrators. Noting the 15-year blockade of Gaza, with all attendant repercussions on daily life, the status quo cannot continue. She welcomed the additional assistance of the United States, and measures to enhance UNRWA funding on 23 June, with $160 million in new pledges. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi believes that Palestine is the primary Arab question, she said, but stressed that Ms. Hastings’ briefing was incorrect on the Salah al-Din crossing, as there is only one crossing: the Rafah border crossing. On Libya, she noted Egypt has worked to reach an agreement for elections delayed since 2021, voicing hope that the international community will shoulder its responsibilities and encourage all parties to work towards progress. Stressing the need for concerted effort to maintain the ceasefire in Libya, she called for efforts to resolve the Yemen crisis to end that country’s suffering and affirm its territorial integrity.

THIBAULT CAMELLI, of the European Union, in its capacity as an observer, voiced concern over illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank, violence against civilians committed by all parties, terror attacks and increasing demolitions and evictions, which severely threaten the two-State solution. Stressing that the use of force must be proportionate and in line with international law, he called for an investigation into the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while covering an Israeli security operation in the occupied West Bank. He called for a halt to illegal settlement building, as well as upholding the 1967 status quo for the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in line with previous understandings and with respect to Jordan's special role. Until a just, fair, agreed and realistic solution to the refugee issue is found, in accordance with international law, UNRWA remains crucial for providing protection and essential services for Palestine refugees.

Turning to Syria, he said a durable solution to the conflict requires a genuine and inclusive political transition with full, equal and meaningful participation of women in line with resolution 2254 (2015) and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué. He reiterated the Union’s call to have the situation in Syria referred to the International Criminal Court. In the absence of international justice, the prosecution of war crimes under national jurisdiction is now underway in several European member States. In addition, the Netherlands and Canada are engaged in an important initiative to hold Syria to account for breaching the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Meanwhile, Türkiye’s security concerns should be addressed through political and diplomatic means, he said, expressing alarm over the announcement of another military operation in northern Syria and urging restraint. The European Union pledged €4.8 billion of the total €6.4 billion pledged for 2022 and beyond at the recent Brussels Conference, he added.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said he was deeply concerned over the deteriorating situation in occupied Jerusalem and condemned the continued killing and wounding of Palestinian civilians, destruction of Palestinian homes, and murder of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Palestinians have a right to self-determination and an independent State. There is no question that Israel’s actions in the occupied Palestinian lands, such as the expansion of settlements and blockade of Gaza, are grave violations of Council resolutions and international law, including international humanitarian law. The two-State solution, with two States living side by side, offers the only way to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he said, expressing regret that the Council has failed to reassert the principles of international law or revive the process towards that end. The “festering wound” of the Palestinian question is the principal source of instability in the region, he asserted.

ÖNCÜ KEÇELI (Türkiye) expressed concern over the lack of progress in the situation, but also the lack of interest from the international community in finding a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to the longest-enduring issue on the Council agenda. The status quo is unsustainable, with illegal settlements, forced evictions, excessive use of force, the blockade of Gaza, attempts to undermine the status of Jerusalem and other unilateral actions curtailing the fundamental rights and freedoms of Palestinians. The establishment of an independent, sovereign State of Palestine along the lines of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital is the only viable solution. He called for an urgent return to the path of diplomacy, with members of the Quartet holding a special responsibility, and the United Nations playing a critical role. As a member of the UNRWA Advisory Commission, his delegation welcomed the support at the Pledging Conference, but called on the international community to match that with predictable and sustained financing, given the Agency’s financing gap of $100 million.

MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said that the Council should block any attempt to transform the principle of “land for peace” into “peace for peace”, as well as any attempt by Israel to push back the creation of an independent Palestinian State or to expand the circle of peace between itself and Arab States without making real progress on building such a State. Direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must be enabled to make progress on crucial issues — particularly that of land, but also questions relating to security, water, refugees and Jerusalem. Noting that the question of Jerusalem is a leading one — both for the Palestinian people and for those who follow the three monotheistic religions — he called on the Council to protect the Palestinian people from Israel’s ongoing violations that prevent the faithful from visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Noting that Israel continues to build settlements that prevent the implementation of a two-State solution, he also urged the Council to take “brave measures” to oblige Israel to respect international law. Further, Israel must be held accountable, and the Council should lead an international, independent investigation into the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh. Additionally, the Council should act to stop Israel’s violations of the rights of Palestinian youth and women, which hinder the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and result in a lack of hope for a new generation of Palestinians. While the Palestinian cause has been long neglected and has become the victim of conflict between superpowers, he underscored the need to breathe new life into the Middle East peace process.

JOAQUÍN ALBERTO PÉREZ AYESTARÁN (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the deliberate policy of Israeli occupying forces, which aims to bring about suffering for Palestinian civilians and fragment the Palestinian territories, jeopardizes the possibility of achieving a fair and lasting peace in the region. The finding of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, confirms that the lack of accountability allows the occupying Power to pursue its brutal aggression, and its policy of settler occupation and apartheid, and to carry out crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people, among other actions. The international impunity granted by one of the Council’s permanent members only encourages Israel to continue its daily criminal practices and policies. As an important first step towards accountability, he welcomed the potential inclusion of the United States' partner, Israel, on the list of perpetrators of violations against children, should there be no notable improvement in the situation and should the indiscriminate attacks against that vulnerable group persist.

YURI ARIEL GALA LÓPEZ (Cuba), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, maintained solidarity with the just cause of the Palestinian people. He expressed deep concern that tensions have risen as violations of human rights — among them detentions and the imprisonment of civilians, including children — have increased. He noted Israel’s annexation policy is continuing as illegal settlements are increasing and more Palestinian families are being displaced. Despite repeated calls by many international bodies, the Council has not adopted measures to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and military aggression, he said, stressing that the right of refugees to return must be upheld. The United States has repeatedly blocked Council action and prevented it from fulfilling its responsibility under the Charter. It has hampered broad, fair and lasting solutions to conflict and guaranteed Israeli impunity. He condemned the unilateral decision of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian Golan, stressing that they are serious violations of international law and relevant Council resolutions. He called on Israel to withdraw from the Syrian Golan and all occupied territories.

MOHD HAFIZ BIN OTHMAN (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said despite commitments by the Council and the international community to a two-State solution, the Palestinians’ right to hold full membership status in the United Nations has been denied. Israel practices extrajudicial killings, torture and killing of children, collective punishment, settlement expansion and evictions, its systematic oppression being tantamount to the crimes of Apartheid — as confirmed by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. He urged the Quartet to coordinate talks, stressing that all conflicts must be resolved peacefully — but despite the Council’s obligation to maintain international peace and security, it has not accorded that to the Palestinians’ decades-long struggle. It is high time for accountability, he stated, calling for Member States to urgently apply Council resolutions to end the foreign occupation by Israel and work towards a peaceful solution to the conflict.

MOHAMMED ABDULAZIZ H. ALATEEK (Saudi Arabia) said his country is committed to ending the occupation, establishing an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital and guaranteeing the right of return for Palestinian refugees. He stressed that this position will not change even if Saudi Arabia allows the crossing of international flights over its air space, as this decision was made in line with international obligations and “will not be a prelude to other steps”. He went on to say that regional and international cooperation must be strengthened to respond to common challenges — like the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing conflict — and recalled that Saudi Arabia hosted the Jeddah Security and Development Summit on 16 June. Noting that the Summit’s outcomes were welcomed at the regional and international levels, he added that Houthi militias must stop exploiting the suffering of Yemeni civilians, that the Arab Gulf region must be kept free of weapons of mass destruction and that some countries in the region must cease funding and arming terrorist groups.

XOLISA MABHONGO (South Africa) said the Security Council’s inability to act against Israel, despite its willingness to act decisively on other issues, illustrates the persistent double standards and inconsistency in its work, perpetuating the Council’s failure to hold the occupier accountable for its violations of international law and Council resolutions. Voicing concern about the escalation in settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied territories and the continuous advancement of illegal activities by Israeli settlers, he said Israel’s imposition of an apartheid system debilitates any prospect of establishing an independent Palestinian State. Citing the Secretary-General’s recent report on children and armed conflict, he said action must be taken to include Israel and other groups as listed parties, should they not put in place measures to prevent violations and improve the protection of children. The international community cannot stand idle and deny the Palestinian youth their right to a prosperous future, he emphasized, calling for reinvigorated action to find new solutions to address the challenges facing the Palestinian people.

ARRMANATHA C. NASIR, Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said Israel’s settlement expansion and land confiscation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, constitute grave breaches of international law and United Nations resolutions. He expressed concern over developments in Masafer Yatta, which risk forcibly displacing over 1,200 Palestinians, including a large number of women and at least 580 children — the largest forcible expulsion of Palestinians since 1967. The Council must clearly and firmly reiterate its demands that Israel immediately end all settlement expansions, demolitions, confiscations of Palestinian property and the forcible removal of civilians, in compliance with international law and United Nations resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016). He condemned the indiscriminate killing and excessive use of lethal force against civilians, particularly children, which are all too frequent and for which no one is held accountable. Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups must comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law, and protect Palestinian children caught in the conflict.

Welcoming the preliminary investigation by the High Commissioner for Human Rights into the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, he urged Israel to bring those responsible to justice. He condemned the nine member States of the European Union that pledged to continue working with the six Palestinian civil society groups which Israel labelled as terrorist organizations in October 2021 in the absence of any substantial information to support that allegation, further lauding the commitments made at the recent United Nations Pledging Conference. He agreed with the June 2022 findings of the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is the primary root cause of the recurrent tension, instability and conflict in the region. He urged the Council to resolve the question of Palestine through a two-State solution, based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, living alongside Israel in peace and security.

GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, recalling the death of Shireen Abu Akleh, a Catholic journalist killed in the exercise of her profession in Jenin, condemned the behaviour of the Israeli police during the events that occurred at the Catholic Hospital of Saint Joseph in Jerusalem before her funeral. Regarding the heightened tensions around the holy places in Jerusalem, he appealed to all parties to maintain the historic status quo within the holy city and rejected any unilateral measures aimed at changing it, including attempts to alter its multicultural and multireligious character, “which is dear to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike”. Turning to the wider Middle East, he welcomed the six-month renewal of the Syrian cross-border mechanism but added that a longer extension allowing aid organizations to better plan deliveries would have been preferred. He also welcomed the extension of the current truce in Yemen, expressing hope that the ceasefire can pave the way toward lasting peace. However, in both Syria and Yemen, he voiced concern on the issue of overcompliance with sanctions, in which banks place burdensome requirements on aid organizations or even refuse to do business with them altogether out of fear of punishment, despite the existence of humanitarian exemptions. He encouraged all States implementing sanctions to provide precise guidance on permitted activities to financial institutions so that the flow of humanitarian assistance is not impeded.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) called on the international community, especially the Security Council, to ensure that Israeli forces are held responsible for their provocations and hostile practices, whether against the unarmed Palestinian people or its sacred lands. The international community must intensify efforts to bring back calm and focus on reviving the peace process in the Middle East. Israeli policies and practices show that what Israel really seeks is to entrench occupation, not a just and comprehensive agreement, he said, noting that impunity and lack of accountability will protract the conflict and reduce the possibility of achieving sustainable peace and security. He condemned the heinous assassination by the Israeli occupation forces of the journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while carrying out her job covering crimes against the Palestinian people last May in Jenin camp, emphasizing that that crime requires an independent, transparent and international investigation to determine and prosecute those responsible. He called on the international community to continue to assist UNWRA so that the Agency can deliver healthcare, education and relief aid.

JASSIM SAYAR A. J. AL-MAAWDA (Qatar) said the Middle East is suffering from a dangerous crisis and decades-long challenges as it also faces the pandemic and environmental concerns. The international community must find permanent solutions to end the suffering of millions of people. Noting that Qatar provides humanitarian assistance and supports United Nations efforts, he said the Palestinian question is the central and oldest question in the region, having existed for more than seven decades. Israel must cease all settlement activities and give Palestinians the freedom to exercise their right to self-determination. Jerusalem has a special status and is home to Holy sites. Qatar condemns, in the strongest terms, the assassination of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while carrying out her functions and wearing a press jacket, he said, calling for an immediate and transparent investigation. It is time for the international community to protect the holy sites and uphold all relevant Council resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016). He said Qatar’s latest contribution to UNRWA for 2021 and 2022 totalled $18 million.

MOHAMMAD K. KOBA (Indonesia) said the Council must place accountability measures immediately to assure that Israel stops and reverses its settlement policies; its siege of the Gaza Strip; and the forced transfer of the Palestinian population in Jerusalem, Masafer Yatta and the Jordan Valley, among others. The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People recently convened a virtual conference, "Palestinian Youth in East Jerusalem under Occupation" identity and resilience in East Jerusalem and empowering youth to promote change”. However, there will be neither change nor a future for Palestinian children as they often bear the cost of ongoing conflict with the indiscriminate killing and excessive use of lethal force against civilians. The Council must make protection of civilians a priority, in light of constant violations of international law and numerous relevant United Nations resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016). While it is essential to take immediate steps to lower the tensions that undermined peaceful solutions, he emphasized that “it is not enough… and it never will be.” A comprehensive political process is the only way to end the illegal occupation of the Palestinian land and oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel. “It’s our responsibility to keep the light on the ongoing effort of the international consensus based on two States, Israel and the State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security within internationally recognized borders that we have all long sought,” he said.

MD MONWAR HOSSAIN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that 2021 was the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2014, with 324 killed, including 86 children. The intensity of military atrocities, attacks by settlers and demolition of homes have been aggravated by Israeli forces in the first half of 2022. He also noted further encroachment and extraction of resources from Palestinian lands, among other illegal actions that seriously hinder economic activities and thereby worsen the humanitarian situation. The recent report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry indicates Israel has no intention of ending the occupation, with despair worsening among Palestinians and a paralyzed peace process. The Council must demand an end to all provocations by Israel, which must be held accountable for violations tantamount to war crimes. He noted the High Commissioner for Human Rights has highlighted the brutality of Israeli forces towards children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, calling for urgent action to protect them.

HATEM ABDULHAMEED MOHAMED SHARIF HATEM (Bahrain) pointed out that, while the Middle East occupies an important strategic location, it has suffered from economic and security challenges for years that threaten to undermine both regional stability and international peace and security. Against that backdrop, the international community should demonstrate solidarity and coordinate efforts to find solutions to these conflicts and crises. The Jeddah Security and Development Summit was held in this context with the participation of leaders of countries in the region. He went on to reiterate the importance of pooling efforts to end interference in the internal affairs of other States, to respect the religious and cultural values of different countries and to fight against extremism. He also reiterated Bahrain’s commitment to work as a partner to establish security and stability in the region so that people living therein can enjoy peace and prosperity.

Ms. MEHDIYEVA (Azerbaijan), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the ongoing historic injustice, with the nearly 55-year Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory and other Arab territories, continues to pose a serious threat to regional and international peace and security. “For too long the Council has been unable to fulfil its mandate on this important question due to the use of the veto by one permanent member,” she stressed, calling on the 15-member organ to overcome its paralysis on the Palestine question. Council resolution 2334 (2016) provides the most effective and viable path to peace, setting forth the essential requirements and parameters for the realization of a just outcome on the basis of a two-State solution in line with the 4 June 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, she added. Actions that violate Council resolutions and the historic and legal status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites destroy the prospects for peace and should not be supported by anyone.

She went on to state that threats of annexation by Israeli officials and continued settlement activities and forced displacement of Palestinian families from their homes and lands must be unequivocally condemned. She called for the complete lifting of the illegal Israeli blockade, which continues to impose untold humanitarian, social and economic suffering on more than 2 million Palestinian children, women and men in Gaza. In the absence of a just solution, her bloc calls for the continued provision of the necessary humanitarian and socioeconomic assistance to the Palestinian people, including Palestine refugees, noting the importance of UNWRA’s work in that regard. Voicing concern about the lack of accountability for all violations committed by Israel, she called for international action, particularly by the Council, to ensure a cessation of, and accountability for, Israel’s systematic violations against the Palestinian civilian population under its occupation. She also urged Israel to abide by Council resolution 497 (1981) and fully withdraw from the occupied Syrian Golan to its 4 June 1967 borders.

MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) said the only way to a solution is through negotiations. She advocated for a peaceful and definite agreement based on a two-State solution and relevant Council resolutions, reaffirming support for Palestine to be a State recognized by all nations and for Israel to live within safe borders. She expressed concern over the growth in Israeli settlements, as they contravene international law and hamper peace. The seriousness of this situation is recognized by Council resolutions, particularly resolution 2334 (2016). Israel’s actions must respect its obligations under international humanitarian law. She rejected any unilateral attempts to change the status of Jerusalem, which is an issue whose final status must be decided in negotiations. Expressing full support for UNRWA, she said the international community must come up with solutions for funding the Agency.

AMINA KADER, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), condemned Israel’s intricate system of Apartheid, colonization, racism and occupation, as outlined in many United Nations documents. She expressed deep concern over that State’s ongoing violations against the occupied city of Jerusalem, its citizens, and holy sites, especially the Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif, Israel’s illegal colonial settlement policy — which has intensified around Jerusalem — the blockade on Gaza Strip, and the inhumane situation experienced by Palestinian prisoners, which in many cases amount to war crimes. She recalled the report issued by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, which indicated that “Israel has no intention of ending the occupation, has clear policies for ensuring complete control over the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and is acting to alter the demography through the maintenance of a repressive environment for Palestinians and a favourable environment for Israeli settlers”.

The report highlighted that Israel’s impunity is feeding increased resentment among the Palestinian people, fuelling recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict and an endless cycle of violence. She condemned the heinous assassination by Israeli occupation forces of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while was on duty reporting facts and documenting crimes. Among other violations, she said reports have documented the killing and wounding of hundreds of Palestinian citizens in the second quarter of 2022, citing an “accountability deficit” towards Israeli crimes that encourage further abuses, while victims and their families are denied justice. Calling upon the Council to uphold its responsibility to ensure Israel's full compliance with the provisions of international law and resolution 2334 (2016), she reiterated full support for the Palestinian people in their inalienable rights — including their right to return, and to establishment of the State of Palestine with full sovereignty and independence on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

PYO JISU (Republic of Korea) said the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem must be respected, expressing concern over Israel’s unilateral actions. Particularly, the settlement plans in the E-1 and E-2 areas in the West Bank, which may precipitate the territorial and geographical disconnection of a future independent State of Palestine, must not be advanced. It is also very alarming that violent incidents both in Israel and Palestine have increased. No terrorist attacks can be justified, and any form of violence against civilians must stop. She echoed the Secretary-General’s statement calling for an independent and transparent investigation into the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. She further voiced concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip due to food and energy price hikes. Noting the role of UNRWA is now more critical than ever, particularly in the areas of health and education, she affirmed the Republic of Korea will remain steadfast in supporting the Agency through financial contributions.

For information media. Not an official record.