Delivered by: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
I thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for his thorough briefing and his constant efforts in pursuit of peace between Israel and Palestine. I also thank Deputy Commissioner-General Stenseth for her valuable remarks.
The UAE is grateful to Council Members for their constructive approach towards the successful adoption of today’s presidential statement, the first decision on this file in over six years. It is especially important that the Council is united and unequivocal in affirming that continued Israeli settlement activity dangerously imperils the two-State solution. We also welcome the text’s strong emphasis on the protection of civilians and counter-terrorism.
After a year in which escalating provocations, tension, and violence further eroded the prospects of a two-State solution, the Council’s reiteration of its “unwavering commitment” to the vision of an independent Palestine living side by side with Israel, in peace, is absolutely necessary.
Still, the past few weeks illustrate the potential consequences of the continued lack of a credible peace process. We cannot go on mistaking the absence of a breakdown for a sustainable status quo. The sustained deterioration of conditions on the ground will require a far more concerted effort by the parties, and indeed this Council.
As we discuss ways to promote and sustain constructive engagement, I would like to stress three points:
First, de-escalation is key. This must include reversing, in addition to suspending, unilateral actions such as settlement activities, which undermine the prospects for a two-State solution, and which constitute a clear violation of international law and of this Council’s resolutions.
Second, this is a time for political and moral leadership, in particular, by refusing to yield further ground to extremism – in all its forms. This is critical as the followers of the three Abrahamic religions will be celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, Passover, and Easter in the coming weeks. The holiday period has too often been marred by avoidable violence.
The UAE is firm in our condemnation and rejection of all forms of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and Christianophobia, and we call for the respect of all religious sites, including mosques, churches, and synagogues. In light of the alarming rise in extremist hate speech and incitement, it is vital that the Security Council has addressed these issues, for the first time, in a product.
We reaffirm the need to maintain the historical and legal status quo of the city of Jerusalem and its Holy Sites. The UAE stresses, once again, the need to respect the Hashemite Custodianship of the holy sites, as expressive of the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
Third, the demolition of Palestinian property must stop. According to OCHA, 155 demolitions took place between 1 January and 12 February alone, 28 percent of them in East Jerusalem. Those are not just statistics. Behind each of these 155 demolitions are uprooted families, destroyed livelihoods, and communities scarred by the ensuing violence and dislocation.
We, once again, underscore to all parties the need to abide by their responsibilities under international law, including international humanitarian law, especially regarding the protection of civilians.
The Security Council’s responsibility in this conflict cannot be reduced to a last resort effort to prevent a complete breakdown. This body must revitalize its role as the international custodian of the two-State solution, where an independent Palestinian state, built on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, lives side by side with Israel – in peace, security, and mutual recognition. That requires actively facilitating a return to direct, final-status, talks.
What hangs in the balance is nothing short than the legitimate hopes and aspirations of nearly 15 million people – Israelis and Palestinians – to normal, peaceful, stable, secure, and prosperous lives.
Thank you, Madam President.