Delivered by H.E. Mohamed Abushahab, Deputy Permanent Representative
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I thank the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Mr. Tor Wennesland, for his comprehensive briefing and his tireless efforts to calm the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory. We also thank Mr. Daniel Munayer and Ms. Robi Damelin for their impactful briefings and for all of their critical efforts to support reconciliation between the two sides.
The current situation is marked by high tension and characterized by uncertainty. Amid continued provocations and the accompanying deterioration in humanitarian, security, and political conditions, there is great concern about potential escalation that may happen in the future and be difficult to control. In response to these developments, we also must consider formulating solutions for the short, medium, and long term. In this regard, we would like to highlight the following points:
First, all parties have a responsibility to exercise restraint, reduce tensions, and refrain from any steps that may inflame the situation on the ground, especially around the holy sites in the city of Jerusalem. As a top priority, the continuous confrontations in the cities of the West Bank must be stopped. The killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the subsequent responses at both the local and international level confirm the fragility of the current situation. It also sheds further light on the impact of the conflict which continues to exact a human toll among innocent civilians, especially women and children. The Council’s press statement strongly condemning the killing of Abu Akleh confirms the consensus that it is necessary to closely monitor the situation and underlines the need to address such serious developments in an urgent manner. In this regard, we reiterate our strong condemnation of this killing as well as the importance of an impartial, independent, and transparent investigation into her killing. We also believe that necessary measures must be taken to ensure the non-recurrence of such incidents, in order to protect the lives of innocent people and journalists during conflicts, in line with international law.
Likewise, the recent decision to force approximately 1,000 Palestinians to leave their homes in Masafer Yatta, located in the south of the West Bank, will further exacerbate security and humanitarian conditions for the population. Not only is this an illegal practice, but it also undermines peace efforts and should therefore be halted.
Second, we must take urgent and proactive measures in this Council to help maintain calm and prevent another cycle of conflict. It is necessary to intensify contacts and diplomatic endeavors with and between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to discuss ways of restoring calm and building confidence between them. In particular, local and regional coordination should be strengthened to maintain the historic and legal status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem. In this context, we stress the important role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as the custodian of the Islamic and Christian holy sites.
While we seek to rectify the current situation, our attention should not be distracted from the political process, which suffers from a prolonged stalemate and requires taking serious steps to be activated. In this context, it is possible to reactivate several international initiatives that have sought to catalyze dialogue between the two parties during the past few years. The primary goal for all must be the return of the parties to direct and serious negotiations, leading to a political settlement based on the two-state solution and the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side with Israel in peace, security, and mutual recognition.
Third, we underscore the need to address the difficult humanitarian conditions facing the Palestinian people, especially with the increasing levels of food insecurity due to inflation and rising global food prices. Encouraging both sides to reach understandings that improve the economic and living conditions of the Palestinian people would be an important first step. In this context, we welcome Israel’s decisions to ease the restrictions on movement of Palestinians and to approve additional work permits. We look forward to building on these steps, which are necessary to improve worsening conditions and will contribute to confidence-building and creating an environment that is conducive to achieving peace in the region. We also underscore the important role of the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee chaired by Norway in promoting economic development efforts in the occupied Palestinian territory.
In conclusion, we affirm that the time has come to take courageous political steps to spare the Palestinian and Israeli peoples further suffering.
Thank you, Madam President.