Delivered By: His Excellency Mohamed Abushahab, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative
I thank Mr. Tor Wennesland for his valuable briefing.
We meet again this month to discuss the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which has reached a very alarming level due to the illegal practices and unilateral actions against the Palestinian people.
Considering these circumstances, this Council – which has the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security – must make every effort to address tensions and de-escalate the situation to prevent the conflict from reaching dangerous new levels that could affect the entire region. Such efforts should ensure compliance with the relevant Council resolutions and provide the foundations for an acceptable, just, and peaceful settlement for this conflict.
At this critical stage, we would like to highlight several negative trends that must be reversed, as they could otherwise ignite tensions:
First, the continuing tensions in and around the holy sites and the escalation of inflammatory rhetoric regarding those sites must end. We reiterate our rejection and condemnation of any violations or provocative measures that aim to change the historical and legal status quo of the city of Jerusalem, including the repeated storming of – and threats to storm – Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard.
These provocations could fuel violence and escalate the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Such provocations include the recent interception of the Jordanian Ambassador on his way to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. We reaffirm here the need for respecting the custodianship of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan of the holy sites in Jerusalem and managing the endowments. We also value the important role of Al-Quds Committee chaired by His Majesty King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco.
Second, the demolitions of Palestinian properties and the forced displacement of people in Area “C” must be halted. Today, more than 1,200 Palestinians in Masafer Yatta live in a state of uncertainty and fear due to the risk of forced removal from their homes. Several families have already witnessed the demolition of their properties across various areas in the OPT. According to OCHA, “the proportion of structures demolished or sealed off by their owners in East Jerusalem following the issuance of demolition orders reached 53% as of November 2022, up from 27% in the previous five years.”
Third, settlement activities, which have reached unprecedented levels, must stop. Reports indicate that dozens of plans were approved to build thousands of new settlement units in areas such as Jerusalem, Hebron, and the Jordan Valley. These activities are coupled with the continued rising levels of settler-related violence. The construction and expansion of settlements and their roads violate international law and the resolutions of this Council. They also contribute to isolating Palestinian areas and undermining the viability of a two-state solution.
We stress the need to stop all these violations and that Israel must uphold its responsibilities under international law. We further call on both sides to prioritize dialogue and de-escalation and to refrain from extremist positions.
The current period requires avoiding and stopping any retaliatory measures that could deepen the differences between the two sides, including those related to the General Assembly’s request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice. We also affirm the need to intensify communication and cooperation between the two parties to address unresolved issues and to agree on confidence-building measures.
We affirm the need to restore a peaceful track and create a political horizon, accompanied by practical measures to improve the situation on the ground. We hope these steps will lead to an urgent resumption of negotiations with the aim of declaring an independent and sovereign Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel, in peace, security, and mutual recognition.
Thank you, Mr. President.