04/29/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/29/2019 12:14
Note: Full coverage of today's meeting of the Security Council will be available after its conclusion.
ROSEMARY A. DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, warned that under the pressure of violence, settlement expansion, unilateral measures, intra-Palestinian division and deepening mistrust, the prospects for a just and lasting peace are growing ever more elusive. 'The status quo will only lead to further deterioration of the situation,' she said. While congratulating Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on forming the new government of the Palestinian Authority, and the Israeli people on their recently concluded general elections, she said the prolonged absence of a political solution to the conflict has coincided with the steadily deteriorating situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Israeli authorities advanced at least 2,100 housing units in Area C settlements and issued tenders for another 950 units during the reporting period, she reported, emphasizing that such activities constitute a violation of international law. She added that demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures continue across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
While the situation in Jerusalem's holy sites remained calm in the past month, the cycle of violence regrettably continued, she said, recalling that on 30 March, Palestinians in Gaza marked the first anniversary of the 'Great March of Return' protests, which remained largely peaceful despite some protesters who ignored calls for restraint and engaged in acts of violence. Seven Palestinians, including four children, were killed by the Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza and more than 1,300 were injured, she added. Reiterating calls that children should never be the targets of violence, be put at risk or encouraged to participate in violence, she also called on Israel to use lethal force only as a last resort and in response to imminent threat of death or serious injury. Also during the reporting period, Palestinian militants fired 30 rockets and mortars from Gaza towards Israeli civilian populations, she continued, stressing that such indiscriminate attacks are prohibited under international humanitarian law and must cease immediately. Hamas must ensure that protests remain peaceful and prevent provocations near the fence.
Noting that settler-related violence also continued during the period under review, she recounted incidents of violence committed by Israeli civilians as well as the tying, blindfolding and shooting of a 15-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly for throwing stones. Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recorded 14 Palestinian attacks against Israeli settlers and other civilians in the West Bank, she said, adding that the reporting period also saw a worsening of the Palestinian financial crisis. Despite austerity measures and recently announced support pledges by Arab States, the risk of the Palestinian Authority undergoing financial collapse is growing, she warned. Emphasizing the need for a sustainable resolution of the Authority's funding crisis, she said the parties should address its causes through dialogue, implement bilateral agreements and avoid taking unilateral actions.
Turning to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, she said 70 per cent of women in the enclave are unemployed today, increasing the chances of suffering poverty and violence. The United Nations is making progress on the implementation of a package of urgent humanitarian and economic interventions aimed at stabilizing the situation, preventing an escalation, lifting closures and supporting Egypt-led reconciliation efforts, she said. Reiterating her call on the Palestinian factions to engage in earnest, she thanked Member States who have contributed humanitarian support and urged others to do the same.
As for the broader situation across the region, she said Lebanon remains stable with the situation along the 'Blue Line' calm. However, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed the existence of five tunnels, three of which cross the Blue Line and constitute a violation of Council resolution 1701 (2006), she reported. Recalling that President Donald Trump of the United States signed an official proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan on 25 March, she underlined the need to respect United Nations resolutions on that issue, especially Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 497 (1981). The ceasefire between Israel and Syria has held with relative calm and low levels of military activity in the areas of separation, she reported. Meanwhile, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy in Syria is working with all sides to reach a negotiated political solution to the conflict in that country.
She concluded by declaring: 'As we mobilize in each crisis to address the critical needs of the Palestinian population, be it in Gaza or the West Bank, we shall not lose sight of the core political issue - the prospect of two peaceful and secure States living side by side in harmony.' That imperative compels the United Nations to work with both parties, bring them back to the negotiating table and urge them to avoid unilateral actions that might undermine the prospects for peace, she said. 'Only determined action by the parties themselves can salvage the two-State solution.'
NADA MAJDALANI, Palestinian Co-Director of EcoPeace Middle East, said that 97 per cent of Gaza's ground water is not suitable for human consumption and 30 percent of illnesses are from water-borne pathogens. With an average power supply of just four hours, wastewater facilities fail to operate, emptying the equivalent of 34 Olympic swimming pools of raw sewage into the Mediterranean Sea every day. After more than 12 years of the blockade, consecutive wars and loss of life, as well as the failure of internal Palestinian reconciliation, a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip is happening right now, she emphasized. Underlining the critical importance of water and climate security issues for the region's people, she said that while politicians can speak of a disengagement policy, it is not possible to disengage from a shared environment, she said, citing the demise of the River Jordan as an example of the broader Arab-Israeli conflict's environmental cost. She said EcoPeace has designed an integrated master plan for the Jordan Valley that could turn it around from a valley of poverty and despair into one of shared prosperity for all communities, from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, based on the principles of sustainable development and equal opportunities in the framework of a two-State solution based on the pre-1967 borders.
GIDON BROMBERG, Israeli Co-Director of EcoPeace Middle East, recalled a memorable time when he joined Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian mayors in a jump into the River Jordan together. Planning for that moment required years of work by EcoPeace, including through its 'Good Water Neighbours' programme, which seeks to raise awareness of the river's pollution among young people and their parents on all sides, he said. In turn, those empowered civilians pushed their mayors to engage with other leaders in the region to rehabilitate the waterway and create more economic opportunities for all. Describing decades of conflict and competition over water in the Middle East, he said each side - including Israelis and Palestinians - once fought for every drop. 'Water was left unresolved as a final-status issue because coming to an agreement over sharing scarce water resources was difficult and would produce winners and losers,' he said. In contrast, he noted, new desalination and other water technologies have eased such constraints over water in the region. Some 70 per cent of Israel's water now comes from desalination, and the fair sharing of water between Israelis and Palestinians is now possible. Noting that policies and community-led advocacy have resulted in the flow of fresh water from the Sea of Galilee to the River Jordan for the first time in 50 years, he said solar technology - led by Jordan - helps to fuel water-based technologies. Describing such cooperation as a 'potential geopolitical game-changer', he said it also supports climate resilience for all concerned and a healthy interdependence among States. The use of technology to drive peace is not a new idea, he said, recalling that post-Second World War coal and steel agreements among States in Europe laid the groundwork for a sustainable peace. EcoPeace has multiple partners for peace on all sides of the conflict, he said, adding: 'Good water, and not necessarily good fences, make good neighbours.' Against the backdrop of climate change threats and within the framework of a two-State solution, he said, the Council should urge Israel, Palestine and Jordan to work together in advancing new water technology and sustainable development for their shared future. 'Let us set water free to give life and hope to our region,' he added.
RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, warned that the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is declining rapidly. The outlook has become even grimmer after the Israeli elections, which further entrenched 'the extreme right that has come to rule Israel as a racist, apartheid State' under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he said, emphasizing that the absolute support given to Israel by a permanent member of the Council has only emboldened its flouting of the law. The Prime Minister and other Israeli officials shamelessly brag about inflammatory rhetoric and countless war crimes in total contempt of the Council's authority, he said, demanding: 'Without accountability, how can anyone expect anything other than the unbridled impunity we have witnessed for decades?'
The Palestinian right to self-determination has long been recognized and supported globally, he continued, noting the growing international consensus in that regard. 'Occupation, annexation and human rights can never be accepted as just and moral,' he stressed. The wanton killing, wounding and terrorization of Palestinian children, women and men by occupying Israeli forces and extremist Israeli settlers constitutes gross violations of international law. Israel's 12-year-long blockade of the Gaza Strip remains illegal, he said, underlining that isolating and imprisoning 2 million people is mass collective punishment tantamount to a war crime. 'Whether settlements or walls, home demolitions or evictions, forced transfers, threats to the historic status quo of Jerusalem's holy sites, or any annexation measures, all are unlawful, war crimes, and cannot be justified under any pretext.'
Stressing the need to end all such illegal practices, he called on the international community to stop normalizing the occupation and treating it with deference. It is strange that when it comes to Palestine, calls to uphold the law are viewed as delusional rather than as a legitimate tool to remedy injustice, he noted. Decisions and declarations signed by others in a departure from international law and United Nations resolutions can neither change facts nor legitimize what is illegitimate, he emphasized, pointing out that the Council unequivocally deemed Israel's annexation of Occupied East Jerusalem to be unlawful, null and void and without legal effect. The prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force stands, he added.
As speculation abounds about the pending 'peace plan' to be proposed by the United States, he said, any initiative detached from international law and relevant United Nations resolutions or dismissive of human rights can neither be viable, nor just. He emphasized the strength and longevity of the firm commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative, as well as Jordan's role as custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, and the efforts by Egypt and the Russian Federation to help restore Palestinian unity. He also called for international support for the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). 'We remain committed to a peaceful, political, legal, non-violent path for realizing our rights and bring an end to the conflict,' he said, adding: 'No one can accuse us of not wanting peace or not seeking the best interests of our people; our only condition is that any effort or initiative be based on international legality, on the parameters enshrined over decades in the relevant United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.'
DANNY BEN YOSEF DANON (Israel) said it is a painful time for the Jewish people, noting last Saturday's shooting at the Chabad centre in California. A woman named Lori Kaye was shot and killed as she jumped in front of the gunman to protect the Rabbi. 'This is the second synagogue shooting in six months,' he noted, adding that it is unacceptable that worshippers have to face violence and death in places of worship.
Delivering his statement, he said he would present four pillars proving Jewish ownership of the land of Israel based on the Bible, history, law and the benefit to international peace and security. Citing the Bible, he said the Jewish right to the land of Israel is confirmed in both the Old and New Testaments. The Jewish claim is confirmed time and again, not only in Jewish history, but in world history, he said. It is not just the Hebrew bible or the 50 million Jews around the world who accept this, but all three monotheistic religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, he said, adding that the Koran itself accepts the 'divine deed of the Jewish people to the land of Israel'. When the Romans destroyed the Jewish kingdom, they sent the Jews into a 2,000-year-long exile, he said, adding that the Romans knew that the land belonged to Israel but they still confiscated it and named it Palestine.
For the next 2,000 years, the land of Israel continued to be conquered by others but despite that, a Jewish community remained. 'We knew some day we would return to our homeland,' he said, adding that Jews pray three times a day for the return to Zion, the Jewish land. 'If this is not enough proof, let us consider international law,' he continued, noting the Balfour Declaration's endorsement of the Zionist cause. After the Ottoman Empire fell, the British Empire took legal ownership of the land and committed to establishing a Jewish homeland. These documents are Zionist documents, he said, insisting that Zionism is the realization of the self-determination of the Jewish people in their homeland. In 1945, the United Nations Charter guaranteed the rights of all people to exercise their self-determination, and two years later, the Organization called for the establishment of a Jewish State and a Palestinian State. 'We accepted it and the Palestinians did not, they declared war,' he noted.
The War of 1948 did not end with peace, but rather with armistice agreements with Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, which insisted that the lines be temporary, he continued, reiterating that Israel's right to exist is a critical component of international peace and security. He went on to recall that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established in 1964, three years before 1967, he said, adding that that makes 'no sense' because there were no settlements in Judaeo-Sumerian in 1964. 'What were they liberating?' The Arabs have rejected opportunities for peace time and again, including one presented by the United Nations in 1947 and others in the years since, he said. It weakens the Council's mandate to continue to blame the side that offers solutions and to reward the side that keeps rejecting them, he said, describing Palestinian rejectionism as chronic. 'There should be no reward for rejectionism,' he reiterated, emphasizing that real peace will only be possible when the Palestinian people accept the Jewish State and end their campaign of incitement. 'Enough is enough,' he said demanding: 'How can Israel be expected to make any concessions to a leader who pays others to harm Israel?' Israel will never do or agree to anything that compromises its security, he stressed.
Name to come (United States) agreed with the directors of EcoPeace that the road to peace in the Middle East will be paved by many forms of cooperation, including on crucial water and energy resources. The sustainability of such projects demonstrates that Palestinians and Israelis cooperate on a daily basis, focusing on what is best for their communities, he noted. While Israel is often blamed for the difficult situation on the ground, the real culprit is Hamas, which places its own interests above those of the Palestinian people, he said. Indeed, that group's aggressions have only resulted in poverty and hopelessness while hindering the international community's ability to help. The humanitarian situation of the Palestinians cannot improve until Hamas 'is no longer in the picture' or commits to peace, he emphasized.
Name to come (Kuwait) said Israel's ongoing occupation continues to limit the chances for peace, with the occupying Power pushing forward its illegal settlement activities, demolitions and forced displacement of Palestinian civilians while tightening its 12-year-old siege of Gaza. Meanwhile, the occupying Power makes unilateral decisions, refused to review the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron and is attempting to change the historical character of Jerusalem, he pointed out. Turning to the Syrian Golan, he said recognition of Israel's sovereignty over that territory is a violation of the of the Charter of the United Nations and relevant international law and other agreements. Noting that the report of the Human Rights Council's Independent Inquiry to investigate protests at the Gaza fence in 2018 found that the use of force by the Israeli Defense Force led to 183 deaths and many more injuries, he said such actions amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. Meanwhile the ongoing siege of Gaza constitutes a violation of international norms and also requires follow-up. 'Palestine cannot be the exception to the rule,' he stressed, also calling upon Member States to recommit their support for UNRWA.
Name to come (Belgium), hailing civil society's dynamism and plurality, warned against hostile actions recently committed against that sector. Stressing that there is no alternative to a two-State solution within internationally agreed parameters, he said any solution must allow Palestinians to gain full access to their resources and rights while also ensuring Israel's security. Condemning Israeli settlement construction as contrary to international law and a source of escalating tensions, he emphasized that any use of violence by any side is unacceptable. On Gaza, he said the authorities must respect the right to peaceful demonstration, describing the findings of the Human Rights Council's Independent Inquiry as both important and serious. Israel, while exercising its right to protect its own security, must also respect the principles of necessity and proportionality in the use of force, he said, stressing that all sides must act with restraint and refrain from using children in protests. He concluded by emphasizing that Belgium does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights and will not accept that situation as a precedent for similar future initiatives.
Name to come (China) spotlighted the international community's common responsibility to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of the Palestinian people, noting that their situation remains dire. Calling for efforts to uphold a two-State solution and address the crisis 'at its source', he said all parties must abide by Council resolutions aimed at establishing a sovereign State of Palestine and any new initiatives must be in accordance with agreed-upon parameters. The construction of new settlements must stop and the parties must refrain from actions or rhetoric that could further escalate tensions, he emphasized, calling for efforts to advance the intra-Palestinian dialogue and bring the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks out of their current deadlock. He went on to express concern over Israel's recent non-payment of tax revenues. All sides must comply with United Nations resolutions and other international agreements on that matter, he said, adding that, meanwhile, States should scale up their support to UNRWA and remain committed to ongoing negotiations aimed at resolving other hotspot issues in the region. China recently hosted the second China-Arab States Forum on Reform and Development, he said, adding that countries of the Middle East participated in its Belt and Road Forum.
Name to come (Equatorial Guinea) condemned the recent wave of terrorist attacks against places of worship. Describing the situation in the Middle East as a growing concern, he said conflict and violence in Syria, Yemen and Iraq constitute violations of international law, emphasizing that all stakeholders must refrain from inciting further violence. Besides the death toll, Equatorial Guinea regrets the loss of infrastructure and the damage to agriculture, he said, adding: 'Such is the suffering awaiting the millions of Palestinians who have been involuntarily displaced to parts of the world.' While awaiting the proposed peace plan of the United States, Equatorial Guinea remains concerned that Israel's recent elections will radically influence its outcome. He also expressed concern over Israel's decision not to renew the international presence in Hebron and its withholding of Palestinian tax revenues. He further expressed concern over the situation faced by civilians living in the Gaza Strip, stressing that both Hamas and Israel must refrain from unilateral actions that could exacerbate the conflict.
Name to come (Russian Federation) said the Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies at the heart of the instability in the Middle East. Emphasizing that the internationally recognized basis for a Middle East settlement remains 'iron-clad', he said Israel must cease its settlement activities in the West Bank. Both Palestinians and Israelis must renounce violence and refrain from aggressive and provocative actions, he said, stressing: 'No one party can achieve any breakthroughs alone.' The Quartet (European Union, Russian Federation, United Nations, United States), whose functioning has been approved by multiple Security Council resolutions, is crucial in achieving a settlement, he said, adding that his delegation will continue to support the reinforcement of coordination with regional actions. The recent session of the Arab-Russian Cooperation Forum held in Moscow earlier this month demonstrates the Russian Federation's essential and critical commitment to peace, he said. Emphasizing that any assistance to Gaza must be carried out in coordination with the legitimate authorities and the Palestinian Authority's President Mahmoud Abbas, he said the Russian Federation will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected people, underscoring the important work of UNRWA. He added that the Golan Heights are undoubtedly Syrian territory that Israel occupied in 1967 and then later annexed.
KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said a sustainable peace requires a safe and secure Israel living alongside a Palestinian State based on the pre-1967 borders. 'It will take the support of the whole international community to make such a historic peace possible,' she emphasized. Citing the Balfour Declaration, she said it was written amidst the First World War and is 'a product of its time'. Emphasizing her country's commitment to lasting peace, she said that although it is proud of its role in the creation of a Jewish State, the United Kingdom also supports the establishment of a Palestinian State. A lasting peace should begin without delay, she said, noting that the goal of a two-State solution remains at stake. Prosperity and strong Palestinian institutions serve Israel's interests as well, she continued, urging that country to reverse its revenue-confiscation policy. She also expressed regret over Israel's approval of additional settlement construction while condemning the terrorism of Hamas and other military groups in Gaza. 'We are second to none in supporting Israel's right to security […] but measures should be appropriate,' she stressed.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland), associating herself with the European Union, said that despite constant calls for a de-escalation in the Middle East, there has not been any progress at all. On the contrary, there has been no action to prevent a further loss of lives. In recent violent episodes, civilians, including children, were killed or wounded on both sides. She emphasized that recent developments in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are a reminder of how important it is to continue the de-escalation process. Despite the recent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the security situation remains volatile. All sides must fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. The priority is to restore a political horizon for the resumption of a meaningful peace process. A negotiated two-State solution and a resolution of all final status issues are a realistic way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both parties and achieve long-term peace.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) expressed concern about the worrying situation on the ground, including Israel's approval of thousands of new housing units and its policy legalizing so-called 'wildcat settlements'. He expressed particular concern that such activities in East Jerusalem's Old City are leading to heightened tensions around the Temple Mount. Citing a shift towards de facto annexation of the West Bank - which would contravene international law - he warned that a situation in which two peoples exist in an unequal manner within the same territory would lead to violence. He went on to condemn all violent actions, including rocket fire into Israel, emphasizing that France does not recognize Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem, the Golan Heights the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, and rejects the decisions to the contrary by the United States. States must not give in to the temptation to deviate from relevant international agreements and pursue unilateral actions, he stressed, warning them not to treat such agreements as a 'menu of options'. Meanwhile, the Council's increasingly deafening silence on the matter is impacting its credibility in the eyes of the world, he pointed out.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), reaffirming the importance of a two-State solution, called upon the Council to bring both parties to the negotiating table. The guidelines for negotiations must be based on the already established legal framework, which include General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Arab Peace Plan and the Quartet's road map, he said. Condemning Israel's unilateral actions, including its refusal to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron and its continued withholding of tax revenues collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, he declared: 'As long as the territories remain occupied, we run the risk of changing facts on the ground.' He also pointed out the occupation's disproportionate impact on Palestinian women.
Name to come (Dominican Republic) said the cross-border nature of water makes it a critical component of any peace negotiations. Welcoming Israel's recent election as an opportunity to reinvigorate stalled peace talks, he said the security and well-being of civilians in the region should override all political considerations and obstacles. He condemned all attacks against civilians - including the use of mortars and incendiary devices as well as disproportionate use of force. Noting that water shortages are compounding an already severe humanitarian situation and jeopardizing attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said that over-cropping, urbanization and the long conflict have conspired to create the current alarming situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, adding that Israel's withholding of tax revenues and loss of international support is putting even more pressure on the Palestinian economy. The Council must support the conditions most conducive to a political solution, on the basis of internationally agreed resolutions and with protection for the rights and well-being of civilians, he stressed.
Name to come (Peru) echoed concerns about the severe humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the impact of recent unilateral actions and decisions, warning that they threaten to heighten tensions. Recognizing Israel's right to preserve its own security and existence - as long as that right is exercised in accordance with the principles of proportionality and due care - he said that country is obliged to comply with all relevant Council resolutions, including those demanding an end to its settlement activities. He emphasized the urgent need to lift the blockade against Gaza while also preserving Israel's ability to ensure its security, and echoed concern expressed following its decision to withhold a significant amount of tax revenues.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said the meeting is taking place following the issuance of a 'watershed' report by the Human Rights Council's Independent Commission of Inquiry on the violence committed against Palestinians in Gaza since 31 March 2018. Describing such violence as a blatant disregard for and violation of international humanitarian and human rights law, he said the international community must help address the humanitarian situation in Gaza in light of UNRWA's funding crisis. Noting that the Palestinians' suffering is made worse by Israel's withholding of tax revenues belonging to the Palestinian Authority, he reiterated support for the latter's rejection of pieces of that payment, stressing: 'It is their money, and it should be paid in full and without preconditions.' Noting that Indonesia has pledged an additional $1 million to UNRWA, he urged other States to follow suit. Calling for the setting of a timeframe to achieve a two-State solution, he cautioned against the 'lure of interim agreements', which history has proven can be exploited by the occupying Power. 'We have a two-State solution on the table, but at the rate we are going only one State will exist,' he said, adding that the pace will result both in a tragedy for the Palestinian people and for the credibility of the Council.
Name to come (Côte d'Ivoire) said the ongoing political and security issues in the West Bank and the grave humanitarian crisis facing Palestinians in Gaza has further eroded the hopes of the Oslo agreements. Despite this gloomy picture, however, peace remains possible, he said. Expressing support for the two-State formula, with two States co-existing side by side with the pre-1967 borders, he called upon both parties to engage in constructive dialogue and to refrain from unilateral actions that could further aggravate tensions. He also expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and noted the important work of UNRWA. Turning to Syria, he emphasized the importance of preserving the ceasefire in Idlib Governorate, ensuring the sustainable delivery of aid and engaging with all parties to implement Security Council resolutions. Concerning Yemen, he called for efforts led by the United Nations to reverse the violence and insecurity in that country, stressing that all sides must engage in dialogue and build a future of peace and stability.
Name to come (Germany), Council President for April, spoke in his national capacity, saying his delegation supports a two-State solution and expressing concern over inaction on the Council's part. Noting the lack of progress towards resolving the issue, he said he tried to take the initiative of breaking up the usual presentations and invited the briefers from EcoPeace Middle East. Civil society can play a very important role in building trust and confidence, he added. Turning to the question of water, he said it is not an esoteric issue and is a part of the Oslo agreements. Water has implications for security, he emphasized, saying Germany will maintain the relationship between climate change and security on the agenda.
Name to come (Japan) said that s/he continues to support a two‑State solution. S/he expressed concern about the current impasse in the political process, noting that while there is no easy way towards peace in the Middle East, it is important to resume direct dialogue among parties. The continued engagement by the United States is important, s/he said, expressing hope that its peace plan, which will be released in the not‑so‑distant future, will serve as a constructive basis for direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine. The Government of Japan urges the Government of Israel to freeze its settlement activities, including the construction plan approved by Israel in April, which are undermining the viability of a two‑State solution.
Name to come (Lebanon) said that the question of Palestine is still a source of concern for the region and the world. The situation is deteriorating, and instead of talk of a two‑State solution and land swaps, which characterized the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis and is enshrined in agreements and resolutions, there is talk of the annexation of the West Bank or of parts of it, and the possible collapse of the whole peace paradigm. The road to negotiations is blocked, and the Palestinians are under tremendous political and economic pressure borne out of a new political reality, a debilitating financial situation and a fragile security situation. What is missing is not United Nations resolutions or peace plans or road maps for peace. All of this has been done, s/he said. What is needed is the political will to choose life and to take the road of peace.