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Madam President,

I would like first to thank Mr. Tor Wennesland for his second briefing to the Council in less than one week and commend his tireless efforts to support stability and peace in the region.

Today, we find ourselves at a critical juncture. As previous years have shown, we will either see a continued and dangerous escalation, which will further increase tension in the region, or these events will be diffused to prevent further aggravation. In this context, we condemn the repeated incursions by Israeli forces into Al-Aqsa Mosque as well as the assaults carried out by settlers in the courtyards of the Haram al-Sharif. What we need now is restraint as well as intensive and continued regional and international efforts and pressure that deescalate the situation and introduce constructive initiatives for rebuilding confidence between the parties.

In this regard, we must utilize all available diplomatic means, including existing channels of communication with the parties, to achieve these goals. As my country’s foreign minister stressed in his call with his Israeli counterpart, the situation must de-escalate and practices that violate the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque must be stopped. In this context, we value some recent steps taken by the Israeli government to de-escalate and reduce tensions. We urge that other similar steps be taken to create a stable and sustainable political environment that allows for Palestinians and Israelis to sit together and pursue future steps to revive the Middle East Peace Process. In this context, we also commend the efforts of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Arab Republic of Egypt, and the United States in urging the parties to abide by the recent truce and restore calm in the region.

We support the call made at the last emergency Arab Ministerial Committee meeting regarding the need to re-launch serious and effective negotiations to restore confidence in the feasibility of the peace process and put it on a clear path towards a negotiated solution based on the two-state solution, where the Palestinian state would live side by side with Israel in peace, security, and mutual recognition. This constitutes an Arab strategic choice and a regional and international necessity.

The current situation, which has already led to hundreds of injuries and arrests among worshipers as well as severe damage to the facilities of the Holy Mosque, underscores the need to ensure the protection of worshipers, while simultaneously refraining from any provocative actions in Al-Aqsa Mosque. We also stress the need for the Israeli authorities to respect the right of Palestinians to practice their religious rites and to have free access to holy places, including Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Ibrahimi Mosque.

We reiterate our emphasis on the need to preserve the existing legal and historical status quo of the city of Jerusalem and its sanctities in line with international law. We stress the need to avoid undermining the authority and powers of the Jerusalem Endowment Administration and the affairs of Al-Aqsa Mosque. We also emphasize the need to respect the role of the custodianship of Islamic and Christian holy sites and endowments, which is entrusted to His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Furthermore, the UAE also appreciates all multilateral efforts to protect the city of Jerusalem, including the efforts of Al-Quds Committee of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, chaired by His Majesty King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco.

In conclusion, we affirm the UAE’s support for achieving the independence of the Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, the Arab Peace Initiative and other agreed international references. Our region is in dire need to find just, comprehensive, and peaceful solutions to crises and conflicts, including through joint action, to pursue development and meet the aspirations of its people for progress and prosperity.

Thank you, Madam President.