At the outset, I would like to thank the Russian Federation for convening this important debate. I would also like to thank Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov for his comprehensive brief.
The UAE believes that de-escalation, communication channels, and diplomacy are the core pillars of addressing any past and current tensions as well as avoiding any future challenges in the Middle East. We must rethink our past approaches in order to move past previous stalemate and create a stable peaceful and prosperous Middle East.
Despite the current conflicts plaguing the region from Yemen to Syria, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, remains the core conflict at the heart of our region. In this context, the UAE signed a Peace Accord with Israel on 15 September 2020, under the auspices of the United States. This historic decision responds to repeated calls from the international community, including many countries in this debate today, to maintain the viability of the two-state solution by halting annexation. We are grateful to and encouraged by both Secretary-General António Guterres and Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov for welcoming the agreement.
The UAE firmly believes that this agreement, together with the Declaration of Peace, Cooperation, and Constructive Diplomatic and Friendly Relations concluded by Bahrain and Israel, presents an opportunity for the region to move in the direction of stability and prosperity. To build upon these positive developments in the region, the UAE believes that the following steps are necessary:
First, the Council must use the opportunity created by the accord to break the deadlock in the peace process and resume direct talks between the parties. The UAE has repeatedly expressed its grave concerns about plans to annex Palestinian lands. We reiterate here that the UAE has been, remains, and will always be committed to the two-state solution, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid terms of reference, the Arab Peace Initiative, and the Quartet road map. In this context, the UAE supports any initiative aimed at a peaceful resolution based on the aforementioned references.
Second, we urge the international community to be steadfast in its support of the Palestinian people, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Since the UAE’s founding, almost 50 years ago, the UAE has been committed to supporting the Palestinian people, including during the pandemic, and between 2013-2020, we have contributed more than USD 837 million in aid to the Palestinian people and to UNRWA. During the UAE’s current chairmanship of UNRWA’s Advisory Commission, we seek to establish a thematic engagement approach to provide assistance set out in the UAE’s aid strategy and align it with UNRWA’s mandate and medium term strategy 2016-2021; focusing on four areas, which include, digitalization of education, women and girls empowerment, youth empowerment, and environment sustainability.
Third, we should encourage any positive steps that promote peaceful coexistence and interfaith dialogue, particularly between our youth in the region. We must build bridges that support mutual understanding and tolerance, and therefore open new avenues to peace. We must include the region’s youth in these efforts and empower them to build a future that is secure for the region.
Finally, the Council must be united in addressing any behavior that destabilizes the region and undermines peace efforts. In this regard, it is critical that the Council take concrete action to address those state actors who seek to sow discord in the region by supporting terrorist and extremist groups and who interfere in the internal affairs of Arab states in violation of international law and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
In conclusion, the UAE affirms that it will continue to work with its partners in the region and around the world to address some of the most critical challenges of our time. As an elected member of the Security Council for 2022-2023, the UAE will continue to be a forward-thinking proponent of peace and will maintain its call for unity.