Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East report of the Secretary-General on the Implementation of UNSCR 2334 (2016), 29 September 2020

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Mister President,

Members of the Security Council,

On behalf of the Secretary-General, I will devote this briefing to presenting his fourteenth report on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2334, covering the period from 5 June to 20 September of this year.

Before presenting the report, I would like to note the recent agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The Secretary-General welcomes these agreements, which suspended Israeli annexation plans over parts of the occupied West Bank. The Secretary-General hopes that these developments will encourage Palestinian and Israeli leaders to re-engage in meaningful negotiations toward a two-State solution and will create opportunities for regional cooperation. He reiterates that only a two-State solution that realizes the legitimate national aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis can lead to sustainable peace between the two peoples and contribute to broader peace in the region.

I am similarly encouraged by the call to restore hope in the peace process and resume negotiations on the basis of international law and agreed parameters, as made by the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Egypt, France and Germany in Amman.

The recent moves toward strengthening Palestinian unity as demonstrated by the outcome of the Fatah-Hamas meetings calling for long-awaited national presidential and legislative elections are also encouraging. Elections and legitimate democratic institutions are critical to uniting Gaza and the West Bank under a single national authority vital to upholding the prospect of a negotiated two-State solution.

However, I am concerned by the rising COVID-19 infection rates in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and Israel. UNSCO is working with the relevant stakeholders to address the needs in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. I welcome the initial response from the donor community to the UN COVID-19 efforts and urge increased support, particularly as the health emergency is rapidly becoming a socio-economic crisis. All efforts must be mobilized to respond to the pandemic, particularly in Gaza.

Turning to the report, Mr. President, let me state from the outset that developments during the reporting period cannot be divorced from the broader context: Israel’s continued military occupation of the Palestinian territory; illegal settlement activity and demolitions; the situation in Gaza with more than a decade of Hamas control over the Strip and ensuing rocket fire, militant activity and Israeli closures; unilateral actions that undermine peace efforts; severe challenges to the fiscal viability of the Palestinian Authority; and the persistent risk of military escalation. The global pandemic has further increased the needs and vulnerabilities of Palestinians. These factors collectively erode the prospects of achieving a viable two-State solution, in line with UN resolutions, international law and previous agreements.

Read the full briefing here.