New York – 24 April 2020 – On behalf of the Group of Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in its capacity as Chair, the UAE urged the international community to demonstrate global solidarity and take a series of measures to support the Palestinian people cope with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic during the UN Security Council for its quarterly Open Debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. 

“Just like the rest of the world, Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including East Jerusalem, are working to contain the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that poses unprecedented health, economic, social, and security threats and challenges,” the UAE stated in the formal submission to the Security Council. “Although the number of detected cases is relatively low to date, the UN has warned that the  oPt is exceptionally vulnerable to infection and mortality, with a severely impaired health system, high population density, and widespread poverty, particularly in the Gaza Strip.”

OIC Member States called on the international community to support the UN COVID-19 Response Plan for the oPt and to provide the resources necessary to ensure appropriate preparedness and response measures by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). They also called for providing bilateral humanitarian and financial assistance to the Palestinians, including essential medical equipment, testing kits, and other types of support to enhance the capacity of health systems in the oPt and refugee camps.

OIC Member States underscored that the deteriorating situation in the oPt is exacerbated daily by the illegal policies of the Israeli occupation. They also stressed that Palestinians must have access to the necessary humanitarian assistance and medical equipment needed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, and called to end the blockade on Gaza and release all children, elderly, ill prisoners, and administrative detainees incarcerated in Israeli jails where they are at high risk of infection.

Furthermore, OIC Member States stressed that the UN must continue its work to ensure that the Palestinian people achieve their right to self-determination in the form of a sovereign and independent State in the territory occupied since 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. On Syria, OIC Member States called for Israel’s full withdrawal from the Occupied Syrian Golan to the borders of 4 June 1967 and affirmed their support for the political solution of the Syrian crisis, consistent with Security Council resolution 2254.

Earlier in the month, as the UN adjusted its working methods to ensure operational continuity during COVID-19, members of the UN Security Council reached an agreement on temporary measures that allowed non-Members of the Security Council to participate in the open debate through written submissions of their statements.