NEW YORK – The United Arab Emirates, in its capacity as the Chair of the Group of Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), urged the international community to take united, practical measures to save the prospects for peace and the two-state solution during the quarterly Open Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, including the Question of Palestine at the UN Security Council on 29 April 2019.

Speaking on behalf of the Group, H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, underscored the organization’s commitment to an outcome that sees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on the borders of 4 June 1967 and with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, the Arab Peace Initiative, and the Madrid terms of reference.

“What is clear is that the situation on the ground in the Palestinian territories is fragile and cannot be neglected any longer,” Ambassador Nusseibeh emphasized. “The conflict has critically destabilized the Middle East, paving the way for extremist groups to spread their messages of terrorism and violence.”

Ambassador Nusseibeh called attention to the dire humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem. She noted that Israel’s near total closure of the Gaza Strip continues to harm the approximately 2 million Palestinians living in the territories, and that the generalized travel ban limiting travel to “exceptional humanitarian cases” and  the severe restrictions on the entry and exit of goods to Gaza, pose significant consequences for Palestinian access to essential services. She called for support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), which provides aid to the majority of Gaza’s population and to refugees in need throughout the region. In this regard, she also highlighted the Endowment Fund for Palestine Refugees – announced during the 46th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in the UAE in March 2019 – which aims to bolster the financial position of UNRWA, enabling it to deliver sustainable relief and services to Palestinian refugees.

Regarding the political process, Ambassador Nusseibeh stressed the importance of driving international momentum to resume progress. She noted the crucial role of the international community and the UN Security Council in reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the conflict and reiterated that the only viable solution to the conflict is the two-state solution. Ambassador Nusseibeh emphasized that efforts towards international peace and security would not succeed without the end of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian and Arab territories. She called on Israel to stop its illegal settlement activities and for the end of any unlawful attempts to change the legal status of Jerusalem. Furthermore, she stated that any recognition of “Israeli sovereignty” over the occupied Syrian Golan does not alter the legal status of the Syrian Golan Heights under international law.

Additionally, Ambassador Nusseibeh also stressed the need for providing the necessary assistance and support for Palestinians to achieve economic and social development in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ambassador Nusseibeh concluded by affirming that the OIC will spare no efforts to advance international peace and security through the promotion of a two-state solution where Palestine and Israel live side by side in understanding, peace, and prosperity.