Top Political Envoy Cites ‘Increasingly Antagonistic and Virulent’ Discourse between Israelis, Palestinians in Briefing to Security Council

SC/11737
15 January 2015
7360th Meeting (AM)

Top Political Envoy Cites ‘Increasingly Antagonistic and Virulent’ Discourse between Israelis, Palestinians in Briefing to Security Council

In Year’s First Open Debate on Middle East, Speakers Regret Lack of Progress, Rejection of Text Setting Timeframe for Ending Conflict

Ahead of an all-day debate on the Middle East today, a top United Nations political official called on Israelis and Palestinians to end a cycle of actions and rhetoric that were pulling them further away from negotiations for a lasting two-State solution to their conflict.

“The parties are now engaged in a downward spiral of actions and counter-actions,” Jens Toyberg-Frandzen, Assistant Secretary-General of Political Affairs, said in the first Middle East quarterly open debate of the year, presided by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, whose delegation holds the body’s presidency for January.

“The increasingly antagonistic and virulent nature of the discourse between the two sides should be cause for serious concern among those seeking to foster an environment conducive to a return to constructive dialogue,” he added, urging leaders of both parties to plot a new course to constructive engagement.

The meeting, Mr. Toyberg-Frandzen recalled, was the first since the Council had failed to adopt a draft resolution calling for Israel’s withdrawal from territories occupied since 1967 by 2017 (see Press Release SC/11722 of 30 December 2014), following which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took steps to accede to the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute.

Subsequently, he said, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would stop transferring customs revenues to the Palestinian Authority.  He called on Israel to immediately resume the transfer, noting that the League of Arab States had convened in Cairo today to discuss the matter and other recent developments.

He reiterated the Secretary-General’s call on the parties to refrain from actions that would exacerbate existing divisions.  The international community, he added, must also uphold its responsibility to play an active role in shepherding an effective way forward towards the two-State solution and lasting peace.

Meanwhile, the situation on the ground remained volatile, he reported, particularly in Gaza, where talks on strengthening the ceasefire and intra-Palestinian political progress were lacking, and sporadic violence and humanitarian suffering continued.  In the West Bank, security operations, clashes, attacks and housing demolitions also continued, he added.

Turning briefly to Syria, he informed the meeting of the Special Envoy’s efforts to establish a “freeze”.  On Lebanon, he spoke of the political dialogue, extremist attacks and the situation of Syrian refugees in the country.

Following that briefing, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine and the representative of Israel took the floor.  The Palestinian representative reiterated his regret that the Council had failed again to act, by not adopting the December draft text, which, he stressed, was consistent with other Council resolutions that had been adopted, although Israel continued to violate them.

The situation on the ground continued to deteriorate, he said, stressing that his delegation would continue to pursue a peaceful, political, diplomatic, and legal path towards the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  Accession to international treaties was part of that effort to end what he called a “vicious” occupation that had gone on for decades.

Israel’s representative, in turn, said that the draft resolution and the accession to various treaties were tactics being used by the Palestinians to avoid negotiating, avoid recognizing Israel as a Jewish State, and avoid making a lasting commitment to peace.  The measures were also a sign that President Abbas was trying to cling to power after 10 years in office.

Instead of negotiating, he said, Palestinians were nurturing a climate of hate that had resulted in wave upon wave of terrorism in addition to all-out war against Israel.  Condemning last week’s attacks in France, he urged world unity in turning back the tide of violent extremism, and called for holding Palestinians, including Hamas, accountable for their actions.  He warned that Hizbullah had rearmed in Lebanon and had made its violent intentions clear.

Following those statements, some 45 speakers took the floor to comment on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as well as on the Syrian crisis and the spread of extremist groups in the region, with some in that context condemning the Paris attacks and calling for stronger international action against terrorism.

Many speakers urged leadership from the Security Council in pressing Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate and resolve their conflict before the prospects for a two-State solution disappeared and worse turmoil ensued.  In that context, many, including Indonesia’s representative, said that another resolution with a deadline for Israeli withdrawal was needed.

Some, including New Zealand’s representative, said that a new resolution on a framework for negotiations could be useful if it had wider consultation and resulted in a more balanced text than the one that had been rejected in December.  Others, such as the representative of the Republic of Korea, spoke against any unilateral actions, at either international forums or on the ground.

Echoing the hopes of most participants, the representative of Lithuania looked for the universal values of “peace, tolerance and mutual respect” to bring both parties back to the negotiating table soon.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Chile (in his national capacity), United States, United Kingdom, China, Spain, Angola, Nigeria, Jordan, Malaysia, Russian Federation, Venezuela, Chad, France, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and in his national capacity), Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Guatemala, Iceland, India, Brazil, South Africa, Cuba, Syria, Tunisia, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Turkey, Japan, Peru, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Morocco.

Representatives of the European Union delegation and the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People also spoke.

The representatives of Israel and Saudi Arabia took the floor again at the end of the debate.

The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 5:10 p.m.

Briefing

JENS ANDERS TOYBERG-FRANDZEN, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that since the last briefing, neither Israelis nor Palestinians had taken steps to reverse the ever-widening trust deficit between them.  Today’s meeting was the first since the Council had failed to adopt a draft calling for Israel’s withdrawal from territories occupied since 1967 by 2017 (see Press Release SC/11722 of 30 December 2014), after which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took steps to accede to the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would stop transferring customs revenue to the Palestinian Authority.  He called on Israel to immediately resume the transfer of tax revenues, noting that the League of Arab States had met in Cairo today to discuss those developments.

“The parties are now engaged in a downward spiral of actions and counter-actions,” he said, reiterating the Secretary-General’s call on the two sides to refrain from any actions that would exacerbate existing divisions.  The international community must also uphold its responsibility to play an active role in shepherding an effective way forward towards the two-State solution and lasting peace.

The Gaza Strip, he warned, was “balancing on a tightrope that would continue to fray unless a number of critical issues — many of which are political — are tackled with both determination and a heightened sense of urgency”.  In that context, he described rocket launches, a subsequent air strike and other security incidents.  In addition, payment of salaries to Gaza employees were still at a standstill, the Government of National Consensus had not yet taken control over security institutions and border crossings, there had been no progress on civil service reform or talks on the horizon to bolster the fragile ceasefire, and Gaza was facing critical energy shortages, the severity of which was compounded by harsh winter conditions.

Although the operation of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism was made increasingly difficult by the failure to address those critical issues, there was some positive news.  As of this week, for example, more than 38,000 individuals had been cleared to purchase materials for shelter repairs and more than 23,000 had procured construction materials.  Large-scale projects were also being initiated.  However, given the need for some 100,000 for shelter repairs, the effort faced severe handicaps as donors had largely failed to fulfil their pledges three months after the Cairo conference.  Inflammatory criticism of the United Nations for its role in facilitating agreements to open border crossings was also unhelpful.  He encouraged Egyptian authorities to re-open the Rafah crossing while taking security concerns into account.  In that regard, he cited humanitarian concerns stemming from the wait and affecting 17,000 people, including patients, registered to exit Gaza, as well as 37,000 others who wished to leave.

Meanwhile, he said, violence continued in the West Bank, with some 390 search-and-arrest operations carried out by Israeli security forces during the reporting period.  Two Palestinians had been shot and killed and some 145 injured during those events.  Palestinians had wounded three Israeli security personnel, and daily clashes continued between Palestinians and Israeli settlers.  Sixty Palestinian structures had been demolished, including 17 residences.  He was encouraged, however, by the judicial decision ordering the evacuation and demolition of the largest settlement outpost in the West Bank, Amona, within two years and looked forward to the judgement’s swift implementation, reiterating the United Nations’ call for a freeze of all settlement activity. 

Turning briefly to Syria, he said that separate consultations continued with the Syrian parties and a wide range of interlocutors on the parameters of a freeze starting with Aleppo City.  The Special Envoy would return soon to Syria to pursue discussions with the Government and was also closely following developments relating to the Cairo and Moscow Forum meetings.

In Lebanon, he reported the start of dialogue between the Future Movement and Hizbullah, aiming to resolve the deadlock over the long-delayed election of a new president.  Efforts to initiate talks between the largest Christian parties were also ongoing.  He said extremists continued to attempt infiltrations from Syria, resulting in clashes and bombings.  In addition, there were now 1.1 million Syrian refugees registered in the country, and new restrictions on entry had been put in place.  The area of operation of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) remained generally calm, with the cooperation of both Israel and Lebanon with the mission.  In December, Israel had communicated to the Security Council its concerns over Hizbullah’s military capability.  At the same time, Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace continued.

Returning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said “the increasingly antagonistic and virulent nature of the discourse between the two sides should be cause for serious concern among those seeking to foster an environment conducive to a return to constructive dialogue”.  The failure of the parties to take steps to overcome their mutual distrust had brought the situation to a precarious phase.  He urged leaders on both sides to plot a new course — one that led to the two-State solution.

Statements

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said he regretted that the Council had failed to uphold its duties and contribute to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The draft text presented last month by Jordan was fully consistent with past resolutions, which Israel had continued to violate.  Despite the Council’s resistance to the draft, his delegation would continue to approach the body with determination to pursue a peaceful, political, diplomatic and legal path towards the realization of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and their national aspirations.  Meanwhile, the situation was deteriorating daily, he said, providing a grim overview of the situation on the ground in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, which included raids, settlement expansion, arrests and an illegal blockade triggering a humanitarian disaster and massive displacements.

Calling on the international community to demand that Israel promptly end its blockade of Gaza, he emphasized that Israel was also withholding Palestinian tax revenues, which should be released.  Israel’s “vulgar and illegal” behaviour should not be tolerated or excused, he said, underlining that the State of Palestine’s recent accessions to international conventions and treaties, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, were legal, peaceful steps that should be welcomed by the international community.  “There should be no doubt about Palestine’s commitment to international law and peace, and for this proven commitment, Palestine should not be punished,” he said.  “This is wrong and totally perverse and cannot be condoned by any rational, law-abiding and peaceful person or country.  There is no symmetry or balance in this conflict; there is an occupier — imposing and entrenching a nearly half-century-long military occupation in the most vicious, lethal and destructive ways — and there is an occupied people seeking their liberty, rights and justice,” he said.

Thanking those Governments, inter-governmental organizations and human rights groups that had supported Palestine’s accessions, he asked how the international community could allow the Security Council to remain “paralysed” while the conflict continued to burn, inflaming tensions and destabilizing an already volatile region.  “We can no longer wait after nearly seven decades of Al-Nakba and nearly five decades of occupation,” he said, urging an immediate focus on implementation of the law and ensuring responsibility for gross human rights violations, breaches of humanitarian law and war crimes, all of which had been perpetrated via the illegitimate, belligerent, colonial Israeli occupation.

It was time to realize the international consensus for a peaceful solution, he insisted, adding:  “We will thus continue to reject all of the irrational arguments against our peaceful, non-violent, political, diplomatic and legal endeavours and will continue on this path for justice and peace.”  He stressed that the Palestinians would continue to appeal to “all peace-loving countries and peoples to continue their principled solidarity and support the effort to uphold international law and to realize the rights of the Palestinian people”.  Despite the recent setback in the Council, his delegation was hopeful and confident that the current global support, solidarity and political and moral responsibility would be forthcoming, thereby extending the spirit and momentum of the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People towards the attainment, at last, of a just, durable and comprehensive peace.

RON PROSOR (Israel) said he decried the terrorist attacks in France and noted that the world had responded collectively, with millions taking to the streets.  Freedom was under attack in many places, including in Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran, he said, and the world must fight back and reverse the tide of violent extremism.  Israel had been fighting to defend its values, forced to fight wars, and it had endured wave upon wave of terrorism.  Israel had also continued to strive for peace, including finding agreement with Jordan and Egypt.  Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership had continued to stand firm in not negotiating, not recognizing Israel as the Jewish State and in saying “no” to peace.  The Palestinian’s draft resolution had, among other things, imposed an arbitrary deadline.  “You cannot wave a magic wand and hope all the critical issues, including the claim of return, would magically be resolved.”  In November, President Abbas’ demand that millions of Palestinians “flood” Israel was nothing more than a proposal of the destruction of the State of Israel.  The Palestinian Authority had ultimately wanted to join the International Criminal Court, but by choosing to go to the Court, it had reinforced the message that it did not want to negotiate.  The claim of return was a “non-starter”, he said, stressing that nothing could change the facts about Israel’s historical tie to the land.

Indeed, he went on, President Abbas was willing to do anything to cling to power, including breaking his word by signing dozens of international conventions.  The international community had not challenged the Palestinian leadership, literally letting it “get away with murder”, he said, noting the recent targeted killings of Israeli civilians.  The international community must make it clear that fostering a culture of hatred was wrong and that the path to peace began with the recognition of Israel.  Forging a lasting peace required courage and political capital, qualities lacking in the Palestinian leadership.  While Israel was taking meaningful steps to rebuild Gaza, the Palestinian leadership had formed a Government with the Hamas “terrorist organization”, which had committed countless war crimes, including rocket attacks against Israel and the use of hospitals as military quarters.  The international community had failed to hold the Palestinians accountable for waging war against Israel.

He found it curious that those and other facts were absent from the report currently before the Council.  European nations had claimed to stand for human rights, but the recent parliamentary vote was a vote for terrorism.  Turning to Hizbullah, he said that “terror group” was well-armed and had made its violent intentions clear in warning signs the international community could no longer afford to ignore.  Israel, for its part, would defend its citizens, as the only State in the region that defended freedom of religion and the press.  The world must now send a message to the Palestinian leadership to, among other things, recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people and say “yes” to peace.

Council President HERALDO MUÑOZ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile, speaking in his national capacity, said as his country recognized the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, it was discouraging that there was no peace plan on the table.  Amid rising violence, a new approach was needed.  Parties must build confidence and strengthen dialogue, avoiding unilateral acts, such as illegal settlement constructions, the actions of extremist settlers and evictions.  A stronger international approach was also needed, for which the Security Council must pronounce itself about the parameters of peace negotiations, he said, encouraging greater involvement of the European Union, the League of Arab States and the Quartet.  He called for a general dialogue on the Arab Peace Initiative, based on the land-for-peace principle.  Chile would continue to encourage Palestine and Israel to move towards peace.  Turning to Syria, he said political dialogue was the “only solution”, and he supported the Russian Federation’s efforts to convene a peace dialogue.  On Lebanon, he strongly condemned the 10 January attack in Tripoli, stressing the importance of resolutions 2170 (2014) and 2178 (2014), respectively, on terrorist attacks and foreign fighters.

SAMANTHA POWER (United States) welcomed the facilitation of humanitarian assistance delivery in Syria, as well as efforts to find a political solution, including those led by Staffan de Mistura.  The Syrian regime had reportedly used chlorine repeatedly as a weapon against civilians, she said, emphasizing that the Council must stop the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons.  The regime also used torture as a means of extracting information.  Perpetrators of war crimes must be held accountable, she urged, adding that some 12.2 million Syrians needed humanitarian assistance and 3 million others had become refugees.  Turning to Lebanon, she said the spread of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS) had threatened that country with attacks.  On the Middle East peace process, she said the status quo was unacceptable.  Recalling the Council’s stand on the Palestinian proposed draft resolution, she said negotiation was the way forward, adding that their accession to international conventions and treaties was counterproductive.  She urged both sides to avoid actions that would threaten peace, citing, among the tasks at hand, Gaza’s reconstruction.

JIM MCLAY (New Zealand) said that the Council should actively promote a just and sustainable long-term peace agreement, rather than just “remain seized” of the matter.  A two-State solution was the only real basis for a lasting peace and should be achieved by negotiated agreement.  Arguments that the Council did not have a role, or did not add value, could no longer be justified as other ways to find a solution had not succeeded.  United States’ leadership also was indispensable, but only the coordinated and focused efforts of the whole of the international community could bring the required momentum, which he felt could be garnered by drawing on the United Nations’ legitimacy and convening power and on the Council’s authority.  The Secretary-General’s monthly Middle East report could be more specific and action-focused.  He supported in principle the idea of a suitably balanced Council resolution touching on the final status issues and possibly promoting specific steps to support a resumption of negotiations.  If peacemaking was to proceed with reasonable expedition, it might also be appropriate to establish a realistic timeframe for completing that process.  For the Council to only support such a timeline “does no more than others have before”, he said.

MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) urged the Council in 2015 to play a meaningful role in helping to bring about the two-State solution, the only route to which was meaningful negotiation.  A resolution that involved adequate consultation with all Council members could help in that regard.  Bold leadership was also needed on both sides, and recent counterproductive actions, such as the freezing of Palestinian funds should be reversed.  More needed to be done in reconstructing Gaza.  On Syria, he noted the continued suffering and violence and supported current political initiatives, but stressed the need for broader accords than those now under discussion.  This year must see an end to that conflict.

LIU JIEYI (China), noting severe difficulties in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, expressed deep regret that the 30 December 2014 draft on the issue had not been adopted.  He called for both parties to build trust, calling on Israel to end settlement activities and release Palestinian funds, and on Palestinians to resolve their internal divisions.   The protracted absence of a settlement would have negative repercussions in the wider region.  The Council must, in that light, shoulder its responsibilities.  Towards the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State living peacefully alongside Israel, he pledged China’s support to help bring that about in any way that could help the parties.  Turning to Syria, he welcomed current initiatives to bring about a political settlement and called on all parties in the country to work towards that end.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain), associating with the European Union Delegation, expressed concern over the lack of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, for which reason his country had sent firm messages to both parties to reverse current trends and restore trust.  Any unilateral action made peace more unlikely.  Settlements and the possible “judicialization” of the conflict were counterproductive, he said, suggesting that the present situation might be unblocked by a thoroughly negotiated, less sensationalist resolution adopted by the Council.  More access to materials and wider transactions with the outside world must be secured for Gaza, and measures must be taken to consolidate the ceasefire.  Spain supported the establishment of a Palestinian State, not as an end in itself, but to achieve peace between the parties.

On Syria, he welcomed the Special Envoy’s action plan to relieve the suffering, but called for broad negotiation with all actors to make discussions meaningful.  Spain would offer its good offices to help bring about talks that involved the moderate opposition, building on the Cordoba process.  He also welcomed support to Lebanon to allow it to maintain its territorial integrity, and noting his country’s participation in action against ISIL, called for unified action against the new wave of terrorism, including the Muslim-majority countries that suffered most.  The Paris attacks showed both the need for such action and the need to build bridges to ensure that extremist messages fell on deaf ears.

RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania), associating with the European Union, acknowledged the oil deal between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi Government as a hopeful sign that the Iraqi Government was on track to national reconciliation and inclusiveness.  The international community must step up the whole range of counter-terrorism measures.  The Council must increase pressure in the face of continued non-compliance by the Syrian Government, which had the primary responsibility to protect its people, yet continued to perpetrate crimes against them.  Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the tremendous lack of trust, interest and support by both sides, she underscored that in “this extremely unstable and explosive context” the status quo was unacceptable.  She urged the Palestinian leadership to use its international status constructively and to stop incitement immediately in order to preserve the viability of a two-State solution.  She also called for the end of the Gaza closings and for a change in Israeli policy that allowed Gaza to trade normally and on a permanent basis.  In view of the deteriorating regional security, a comprehensive peace agreement was urgently needed.  She hoped that the universal values of peace, tolerance and mutual respect would bring both parties back to the negotiating table soon.

ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola) said that his country maintained good relations with both Palestine and Israel, with which it had many areas of partnership.  He supported the self-determination of Palestinians towards an independent State and opposed any measures that were counterproductive to a two-State solution, citing Israeli settlement activity.  On Gaza, he called for accelerated reconstruction and real political unity among Palestinians.  On extremism, he called for global unity within the context of respect for all cultures.  Angola valued dialogue and productive discussion for the resolution of all conflicts.  In that light, the recent march in Paris, which included both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders united against terrorism, provided a ray of hope that global solidarity could be reached in some areas and that the Middle East conflict could be resolved.

KAYODE LARO (Nigeria), expressing concern over the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process, said that previous agreements already formed a valid framework for reaching a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  What was needed was courage by leaders on both sides.  He called on both sides to avoid unilateral actions and harmful rhetoric that made it more difficult to reach a negotiated settlement on a two-State solution, which was the goal supported by his country.

DINA KAWAR (Jordan) urged the international community to respond to the suffering of millions of displaced persons and refugees across the Middle East, specifically the children who had spent the past few weeks in bitter cold, heavy rain and snow.  Efforts must be intensified to address the causes of displacement, whether in Palestine, Syria or Iraq.  Concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and recalling the past violence and tension that resulted from the status quo, she said there was now an urgent need to push the two sides to negotiations through a serious framework in which all unilateral measures stopped.  Israel must show its commitment to peace and the two-State solution.  On Syria, a political solution must be sought to end the bloodshed in line with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.  The absence of a comprehensive solution would ignite sectarian conflict in the region.  Jordan, as host to more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees, had exceeded its limits of providing them with assistance, owing to its own available resources and inadequate international support.  She appealed to the international community “now more than ever” to carry out its responsibilities and support all host countries to enable them to continue performing that humanitarian role.  This year should mark the achievement of peace and security in the Middle East, she said, adding that the peoples of her region were eager to accomplish that.

HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia) regretted that the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People had been yet another disappointing and crushing blow to their aspirations, as the window of opportunity once again slammed shut on their dream of self-determination.  “Let us not forget that the State of Israel was created by the United Nations following a General Assembly vote in 1947,” he said, noting that Israel did not come into being through bilateral negotiations with neighbouring countries.  “And yet, we deny a similar path to Palestine and criticize any attempt to seek fulfilment of its right to self-determination at the United Nations as unilateral action.”  The Council must shoulder its responsibility to address the situation, he said, adding that a Council resolution on Palestine was not incompatible with peace talks.  Indeed, parameters and a timeframe could provide much-needed pressure for both sides to return to the negotiating table.  On Syria, he condemned the use of chemical weapons and was appalled at the scope and gravity of human rights violations.  Throughout the region, extremism and terrorism had surged, requiring a comprehensive approach that addressed contributing factors.  “The voices of moderation must prevail,” he said.

VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said the Palestinian situation remained among the most troubling items on the Council’s agenda.  The situation on the ground continued to deteriorate, with settlement activities and outstanding issues in connection with Gaza playing a role.  Opportunities must be seized to rekindle the peace process, he said, expressing disappointment that the Council had not adopted the draft resolution in December.  The current spiral of tension was exacerbating the situation.  “If we fail to respond,” he said, “we only risk worsening the situation in Palestine.”  Talks must be reinvigorated through the Quartet process, yet discussions alone were not enough.  Turning to Syria, he said the only way to end the conflict was through dialogue.  All opportunities must be used to launch national reconciliation.  An upcoming meeting in Moscow would lay the groundwork for an inclusive dialogue and real results, including a comprehensive settlement of the conflict.  He appealed to those with influence to encourage relevant stakeholders to join the dialogue.  Those who had refused to take part would lose their standing in the process, he said, hoping his appeal would be heard by groups in Syria and by regional players.

HENRY SUÁREZ (Venezuela), endorsing a statement to be made by Iran on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed his full support for the right to self-determination, which entitled the people of the State of Palestine to live within internationally recognized borders, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and the relevant resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council.  He once again repudiated Israel’s illegal policies, including its settlement activity in the occupied territory and its withholding of tax revenue from Palestine.  While encouraging both parties to carry on with the negotiations towards the achievement of a firm and lasting peace, he supported Palestine’s accession to various international organizations and reiterated its unwavering support for its request regarding its admission as a full member of the United Nations.  The Council should support that recommendation, so that the Assembly could promptly decide on the matter.

MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad) expressed regret that negotiations towards a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had produced no results, noting that the status quo was not viable.  The international community, particularly the Council, must take responsible actions in line with the United Nations Charter in order to put an end to the conflict and establish a sovereign and independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.  A lack of a settlement undermined the credibility of the international community.  He also voiced disappointment that the Council had rejected the draft resolution submitted by Jordon aimed at ending the Israeli occupation.  The 15-nation body should explore avenues and become further involved to salvage a two-State solution, which should not be challenged under any circumstances.  Turning to the situation in Syria, where people, including women and children, faced severe weather and the horror of war, he urged the international community to step up efforts to work out a consensus solution.  The global community should help Lebanon deal with the burden of hosting Syrian refugees.  The Lebanese presidential election must be held without further delay, as a constitutional vacuum would worsen security, he said, expressing his delegation’s solidarity with that country’s fight against terrorists.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said he deeply appreciated the world’s support following last week’s terrorist attacks in his country.  The Paris march was the best response to terrorism, as it supported the principles of freedom of expression, human rights and tolerance.  More than ever, peace and stability in the Middle East were intertwined with Europe’s situation.  A unique approach was needed to address the Israel-Palestine situation, as well as those in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  France remained determined to forge a change in the peace process that supported a two-State solution, he said, noting that the Council could and should offer a collective effort by adopting a resolution outlining relevant parameters.  Regarding terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, he said they prospered on a foundation of governance problems, repression and the marginalization of Sunni populations.  The fight against Da’esh should be on all fronts, keeping in mind that in Iraq and Syria, the only lasting solution was a political one.  The international coalition in Iraq sought to weaken the terrorists and support Iraqi forces on the ground.  Syria’s situation was the opposite, as the “brutal” Assad regime had made the situation conducive to the growth of Da’esh.  Fighting the terrorists there was linked to a political transition that responded to the Syrian people’s aspirations.  Given the current fragility in Lebanon, he urged respect for the Baabda Declaration and the election by the Lebanese people of a president.

NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) paid tribute to the Lebanese, Arab and Muslim city of Paris.  The two pioneers of Lebanese reform took refuge in Paris during their fight against colonization, and the first Arab conference, in 1913, had taken place there.  The first Arab newspaper had been published in 1959.  Paris, throughout the last century, had been a forum for lectures and a haven of peace for Lebanese intellectuals.  It was the capital of freedom and light.  The root causes of last week’s events must be addressed; military intervention would not be enough to end the threat of terrorism.  Feelings of hate and anger in Paris were a result of oppression and lack of opportunity.  The same was true among Palestinians, who were oppressed by the Israeli occupation.  That should encourage the Council to finally take action and adopt clear guidelines for the peace process that would pave the way for an end to the occupation.  Since the 2002 Beirut Summit, Arab States had reiterated their support for the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative at peace conferences and summits worldwide.  After the 2012 Riyadh Summit, the Foreign Ministers of Egypt and Jordan had met with Israeli officials to reactivate the Initiative, but the Arab nations seeking peace had not been met by a willing Israeli partner.  When would Israelis realize that occupation and peace did not go together?, he asked.

ABDALLAH AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), speaking for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, affirmed his commitment and unwavering support for the Palestinian people’s quest to realize their legitimate and inalienable rights, self-determination, freedom from occupation and recognition of their independent State with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.  He called for an end to Israeli occupation of Arab lands, including the Syrian Golan Heights and Lebanese territories.  The International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in 2014 ironically ended with the Council failing to set a deadline for the cessation of the occupation, thereby missing a vital opportunity in pursuit of a just resolution that addressed the plight of the Palestinian people and retracted from its past resolutions.  Turning to the situation in Syria, he stressed that the only way to end the crisis was through a peaceful negotiated solution, and he urged the Council to exert its power to move the political process forward and for Member States to support the work of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy.

Speaking in his national capacity, and responding to the Israeli representative’s statement, he said the problem relating to the question of Palestine was not the lack of a viable peaceful solution through negotiations, but Israel’s lack of political will to adhere to the Arab Peace Initiative.  He asked if Israel would be able to carry out one aggression after another if it had been held to account for its illegal occupation and humanitarian law violations.  Saudi Arabia would spare no effort until the Palestinian people exercised their inalienable rights and saw the realization of their own State on pre-1967 borders.  The Syrian authorities were still continuing their genocide campaign against their own people.  He denounced the presence of foreign armed groups in Syria, adding that the danger those posed was transboundary in nature.  All foreign terrorist fighters must be removed from Syria.  He also urged sanctions against all those that impeded delivery of humanitarian aid into Syria and called on donors to make good on their aid pledges.

HOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Palestinian Government and the Arab Group had taken the initiative to mobilize the Security Council to act to diffuse the volatile Israeli-Palestine situation and to provide a political horizon that could restore hope to the Palestinian people that the 47-year Israeli military occupation of their land would soon end, by delineating a time frame to stop the occupation.  However, the Council again failed to uphold its duties to address those crises and to meaningfully contribute to a Middle East peace solution, even leaving its own resolutions unimplemented.  The result of vote showed that the Council as a whole was not ready and willing to shoulder its responsibilities, contrary to the overwhelming international consensus as reflected in the vote of 180 Member States in the General Assembly in support of the right of Palestinian people to self-determination and freedom.  Israel continued to violate Lebanese airspace, intensifying its incursions over that country.  Such activities were a blatant violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty.  The Movement condemned all the measures taken by Israel to alter the legal, physical and demographic status of the occupied Syrian Golan.  He rejected any allegations made by Israel about his country.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) condemned the rise of international terrorism.  The continued occupation of the Palestinian territories provided terrorists with fertile ground to thrive.  That should cease so that the occupation could end.  Terrorism had taken shape in horrific fashion in France.  A Council draft last month showed a consensus on the need to put an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people, create a Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and achieve a just solution to the Palestinian refugee questions.  But, certain stakeholders were not putting pressure on certain parties to end settlement construction and other harmful practices.  Such actions did not serve the interest of the Palestinian authorities, nor did the withholding of the Palestinian’s tax revenue.  The peace process should not become an illusion.  The international community must support the Palestinian authorities’ control over Gaza so the population there could live in dignity.  All countries should honour their pledges to rebuild Gaza.  The current situation could not continue, and the Council must shoulder its responsibility.  On Syria, he stressed the importance of its territorial integrity.  Terrorism must be eradicated in that State so that it did not spread to neighbouring countries.  He welcomed the immense contributions of the United Nations and other partners to meet the Syrian people’s humanitarian needs, and applauded the Russian Federation for sponsoring the upcoming Moscow conference.

MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan) noted that Palestine had acceded to more than 15 international conventions and treaties and was expected to soon become a State party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  The Palestinian statehood had been increasingly recognized worldwide, including by Sweden, United Kingdom and Ireland.  Despite those developments, the Council had failed to pass a resolution based on agreed parameters, which had a strong justification for adoption.  Diplomatic efforts, including a track led by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, appeared to have lost momentum.  The Council must work on such a resolution with a clearly marked pathway to peace in the Middle East.  Israel should release tax withholding and lift its Gaza blockade.  The two sides must coexist in the same geographical space within the pre-1967 borders.  When he addressed the Council in late 2012, the atmosphere on the matter was gloomy.  Two years down the road, nothing had changed.  The conflict was an issue 100 years ago and was still a vexing issue today.  That historic impasse must be broken by resolute diplomacy.  On Syria, the removal of chemical weapons demonstrated what could be accomplished when the Council was united.  He condemned terrorism by ISIL.

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) reiterated his support for the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the creation of an independent State of Palestine within the 1967 borders, among other criteria.  The two-State solution was the only viable option for a durable peace.  He called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to show wisdom, responsibility and political will to reach an historic peace agreement.  Condemning the atrocities committed against civilians by ISIL, he stressed that terrorism could only be defeated by a sustained and comprehensive approach through the cooperation of all States and organizations.  On a national platform, Kazakhstan had worked to build a culture of tolerance and respect, regularly convening the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, where leaders of all faiths together sought to promote peace based on spiritual values.  That Congress could be used as a showcase of how to contribute to the settlement efforts through mutual respect and understanding.

MÓNICA BOLAÑOS PÉREZ (Guatemala) said a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the only path to lasting stability and security.  The two-State solution appeared increasingly to be just a dream.  It was necessary to have a timeline that responded to the legitimate needs of both peoples and facilitated a just, final agreement.  She acknowledged the principle of shared responsibility.  The active participation of the Quartet and the Council must generate a new impetus so the parties could take more responsible steps towards a just, lasting peace.  She called for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza, an end to settlement construction and the launching of rockets, and ensuring Israel’s legitimate security concerns, as well as the existence of two States living side by side in peace.  Guatemala supported all international instruments that protected human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the universalization of those instruments.  Guatemala did not view Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute as an obstacle to peace.

GUNNAR BRAGI SVEINSSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland, said the intractability of certain conflicts in the region made it all the more important to look for places where progress could be made.  Both the Palestinian and Israeli sides must commit in word and deed to the two-State solution, and refrain from acts that undermined it.  He called on Israel to stop all settlement activity and urged that country to reverse its decision on forced resettlement of Bedouins in the West Bank.  It was critical the Israeli and Palestinian authorities cooperate constructively and urgently to relieve the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.  The blockade on Gaza must be lifted, and it must be allowed to function as a normal economy.  Both sides’ security concerns must be addressed.  It was important that the Palestinian authorities took on real governmental responsibility for Gaza.  Militant action from Gaza was unacceptable and would lead to further suffering and distance from a negotiated solution.

He noted that Iceland had recognized the State of Palestine in 2011.  His country applauded the State of Palestine’s ratification of several international agreements, particularly its accession to the Rome Statute.  He encouraged all Member States to put themselves under the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction, saying it was “hard to understand the fierce criticism that this move has brought in certain quarters”.  Iceland welcomed the State of Palestine’s accession to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.  The time had come to negotiate all final status issues.  The Council’s failure to provide a timeline was disappointing.  The conflict could be solved, however the Council must be more proactive for that to happen.

ASOKE MUKERJI (India) reaffirmed his solidarity with the Palestinian people for their struggle for a sovereign, independent, viable and united State of Palestine within secure and recognized borders side by side at peace with Israel and with East Jerusalem as its capital.  India continued to support the development and nation-building efforts of Palestine by consistently extending technical and financial assistance.  It contributed $1 million annually to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in Near East (UNRWA), and pledged $4 million to the National Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza.  In addition, it pledged $1 million for a joint project with Brazil and South Africa to reconstruct the Atta Habib medical centre in Gaza.  On Syria, his delegation had supported the national ownership of a comprehensive political solution to the ongoing crisis in alignment with the Geneva Communiqué of 2012.

IOANNIS VRAILAS, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation, expressed deep concern over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, noting, among other things, that Israel’s halting the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority ran counter to its Paris Protocol obligations and undermined the Authority’s effectiveness, and thus, the two-State solution.  He also called on the Palestinian leadership to use its international status constructively and not to weaken efforts by partners to bring the parties back to the negotiating table.  Also of great concern was the continued deterioration of the humanitarian and security situation in Syria.  A lasting solution could only be achieved through a Syrian-led political process.  Further, the reduction of violence would not be achieved without effective monitoring, preferably anchored in the Security Council.  He called on the Assad regime to fully implement Council resolution 2119 (2013) and the Chemical Weapons Convention.  Commending Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey for sheltering Syrian refugees, he underscored the immense security challenges the crisis posed for the region, particularly to Lebanon and Jordan.

ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) voiced regret that the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in 2014 had been marked by the impossibility of realizing self-determination and the increased distrust among Israelis and Palestinians.  While acknowledging the unanimous claims that the status quo was unsustainable, he said the fundamental aspects of the Palestinian question had not been dealt with.  He reiterated appeals for a change in how the conflict was approached, especially in the Council, which had failed to act when a draft resolution had been brought to a vote.  On Syria, he said that the insistence in the benefits of militarization and the use of force to resolve the conflict had resulted in, among others, the displacement of millions of people fleeing brutality from all sides.  He called for the resumption of the political process and the immediate end of weapons flows to all parties.  He noted that his country had received more than 1,500 Syrian refugees.

KINGSLEY MAMABOLO (South Africa) said that, last month, the Council had an opportunity to provide a ray of light to the Palestinians in the occupied territory.  But, once again, that body failed to take decisive action on a Palestinian Government-led initiative that sought to provide a timeframe and parameters to ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.  His delegation commended Council members who had support the draft resolution.  Also concerning was the Israeli Government’s decision to freeze the transfer of $127.6 million in tax revenue collected on behalf of the Palestinians following the Palestinian leadership’s decision to become a State party to the Rome Statute.  His delegation respected the sovereign right and wish of the State of Palestinian to accede to the Rome Statute and called on all Member States to refrain from punitive steps.

OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, reaffirmed his country’s solidarity with the Palestinian people and its support for all efforts to recognize the Palestinian State within pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.  Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands and its blockade of Gaza must end, and border crossings must be opened to allow the entry of humanitarian aid and other goods.  The separation wall, destruction and confiscation of Palestinian land and property, and the forced displacement of Palestinian families were unacceptable.  He demanded a complete halt to all settlement activity and respect for the Palestinians’ right of return, as well as an end to all blackmail against the Palestinian Authority.  Israel must cease its incitement of hatred and terror, crimes of aggression, arbitrary detentions and mass imprisonment of Palestinians.  Cuba had been among the first countries to have recognized the State of Palestine, which must be recognized as a full United Nations Member State without conditions or further delay.  Cuba supported the draft resolution presented to the Council by the Arab Group, urging an end to the “anti-democratic right of the veto”, which enabled Israel to act with impunity.  On Syria, he condemned all acts of violence against civilians.  The supposed protection of human rights and the struggle against terrorists were no pretext for foreign intervention there, he said, urging the Council to reject the illegal arms trafficking to non-State actors there.  He supported the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and called for the holding of a conference on the matter without further delay.

FODÉ SECK, Chairman of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, conveyed the Committee’s condemnation of terrorist attacks in France, Nigeria and the Middle East.  He said that, although the Council had not followed the Committee’s recommendations to adopt last month’s text, all speakers had affirmed their support for the realization of Palestinian rights.  In that light, Palestinians had acceded to international organizations.  He deplored the Israeli response to those accessions and the fact that the international community had remained silent on the matter.  He called for accelerated relief to Gaza not only by donors, but by Israel, in recognition of its responsibilities as occupying Power.  The International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People had ended with no improvement in the situation of Palestinians.  As the status quo threatened international peace and security, the Council must shoulder its responsibilities and help bring an end to the conflict.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria), providing a detailed overview of Israeli policy, actions and violations of international humanitarian law, among others, said that Israel had continued to occupy the Syrian Golan since 1967, imposing the “bitter reality” of occupation on Syrian citizens.  The United Nations must shoulder its responsibility in the implementation of the relevant resolutions, particularly Security Council resolution 497 (1981).  Israel was also planning on the theft of natural Golan resources, including water, oil and gas, with its Supreme Court recently lifting the ban on drilling for oil, in violation of international law.  That country had also provided support for terrorists in the separation zone of the Syrian Golan, including in the treatment of the injured in their hospitals, in violation of the Separation Agreement and in a way that endangered the lives of United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers.  Such support had enabled an increase in movement by terrorist groups, including Al-Nusrah Front, as well as the continuous kidnapping of peacekeepers.  Stating he would not respond to misleading allegations in statements by certain Member States, he stressed that those countries did not respect the relevant Council resolutions countering terrorism.  The Syrian Golan was and would always remain Syrian territory and his country would continue its struggle towards full restoration.

MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia), associating himself with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the future of Palestine was less and less clear, disappointing all the hopes of early 2014.  Unfortunately, those hopes were followed by the aggression of the occupying forces in Gaza and rising violence in the West Bank due to Israeli settlement activity and restrictions on the holy places, as well as the Council’s failure to approve a framework in which Palestinian aspirations could be realized.  That had allowed Israel to continue its illegal practices and its blockage of the peace process.  It was time to change the approach to the question, in order to save the two-State solution.  He called for a lifting of the blockade of Gaza and an Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Palestinian territories.  On Syria, he reasserted the hope that all efforts would allow a political solution to be reached that realized that people’s aspirations and respected the country’s sovereignty.

PALITHA KOHONA (Sri Lanka), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the formation of the Palestinian Unity Government was a positive development.  The international community must continue striving for a peaceful solution, and negotiations must be conducted expeditiously.  Gaza’s reconstruction was a key challenge, while, at the same time, the international community must help the Palestinian’s grapple with day-to-day challenges.  He urged the Israeli and Palestinian Governments to draw on the current international goodwill to facilitate the peace process.  Ending settlement activities and the Gaza blockade were essential confidence-building steps, as was respecting Israel’s security needs.  Sri Lanka supported a negotiated solution resulting in an independent united State of Palestine, and its application for full United Nations membership.  He stressed strong support for UNRWA, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and other United Nations bodies operating in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Terrorists used the Palestinian issue as a key excuse for their actions, he said, stressing that there was no excuse for terrorism anywhere.  He hoped the groundwork would be set in 2015 to advance the peace process.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) condemned the attacks in Paris, as well as all terrorist actions anywhere.  She was disappointed that the Council had been unable to adopt the draft resolution proposed by Arab States on Palestine, calling it a “missed opportunity”.  The Arab States and the Palestinians had taken steps in line with their rights to establish an independent State.  She also stressed efforts to bolster institutions and reconstruction, noting that Qatar was part of the international consensus to recognize Palestine’s inalienable rights to self-determination.  She hoped a Council resolution would be passed to end Israel’s violations and to further the peace process forward.  Achieving peace and stability in the region required real steps, including the re-establishment of the 1967 borders in Palestine and an end to the occupation of Palestinian land by Israeli authorities.  Turning to Syria, she said Qatar had been active in supporting efforts to assist refugees.  She was concerned about foreign fighters and the spread of extremism, deeming it alarming that various Council resolutions remained unfulfilled.

LEVENT ELER (Turkey) said the situation in Palestine remained a major source of concern for humanitarian and political reasons, with the immediate needs constituting a priority for the international community.  Given the fragile situation in Gaza, further steps were needed to sustain the current ceasefire, and the illegal blockade should be lifted.  A negotiated political settlement to the conflict, based on two States, remained an urgent priority.  It was time for the international community to renew its engagement in finding a solution, he said, expressing disappointment at the Council’s recent rejection of a draft resolution that would have paved the way for a solution.  The State of Palestine’s accession to international conventions and protocols should be respected.  Turning to Syria, he said Turkey was increasingly feeling the strain of the current “state of chaos at our doorstep”.  The international community must refocus, from addressing the root causes to dealing with its side effects, given the extent and scope of destruction.  A comprehensive and coordinated strategy was needed to re-establish stability in Syria, including implementing no-fly zones.  Unless a political transition occurred in that country, the world would continue to face the threat of extremism.  He added that the destruction of chemical stockpiles had not been completed and urged the Council to remain seized of the matter.  Expressing full support for the new Iraqi Government, he said its success would be instrumental in reaching a sustainable solution to terrorism within and beyond its borders.

PAIK JI-AH (Republic of Korea) said that the continuing instability in the Middle East, including the spread of terrorism, was disheartening given that it occurred despite all efforts made by the Council over the years.  It was clear that the volatility of the area threatened the whole world, as shown by the attacks in Paris, which he condemned.  His Foreign Minister, in that light, had travelled to the Middle East last month to reaffirm his country’s commitment to help bring about peace and prosperity in the region.  While working to lessen the tension on the ground in Gaza and the West Bank, it was important to remember that a negotiated two-State solution was the only way to achieve lasting peace.  He, therefore, urged all parties to respect previous agreements and avoid unilateral actions.  Noting his country’s aid to Syrian refugees, he said that the international community must simply do more to end the Syrian conflict, and must do its utmost to end the tragedy brought about by the rise of ISIL.

DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said after the Israeli-Palestinian situation devolved into a collapse of the peace talks and a spike in violence, it was high time for the Council to fulfil the demand of the Palestinian people to set a deadline for Israel to end its occupation.  He deeply regretted the body’s failure to have adopted the draft resolution on Palestine in December, as that was a lost opportunity.  Indeed, the Council’s refusal to look favourably on Palestine’s request called into question the very principles of justice and humanity upon which the United Nations was founded.  Such action could also be interpreted as authorization of occupation.  A comprehensive settlement must be attained peacefully, and the United Nations should play a more substantial role in the Quartet to ensure that the process was restarted.  The international community should support the Human Rights Council’s commission of inquiry on Palestine.

MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA (Japan) said tensions on the ground underscored the need for a durable, peaceful two-State solution.  Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would be travelling to the Middle East to call on leaders to resume negotiations.  The peace process could only be achieved through a consensual and negotiated agreement between the parties.  Although the Council had been unable to adopt a resolution on Palestine, he looked forward to its engagement in the process, as appropriate.  Japan had made mid- to long-term contributions in that regard, including mobilizing private investment in Palestine and inviting young leaders in Israel and Palestine to his country for extensive discussions.  Turning to Iraq and Syria, he said Japan would spare no effort to provide non-military assistance to help the counter-terrorism efforts.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA VELÁSQUEZ (Peru) said the establishment of two States should be realized as a solution to end the ongoing conflict.  Despite calls for a ceasefire, more than 2,100 people, mostly Gazans, had lost their lives in July-August 2014.  With a view to improving the situation, Peru had voted in favour of a Human Rights Council resolution that called for an end to the Israeli occupation and Gaza blockade.  It was important to recognize Palestinians’ right to self-determination.  The acquisition of territory by force was inadmissible under international law, he said, urging Israel to cease settlement construction, evictions and demolitions.  A lasting, durable peace must be established, especially after decades of an unsustainable status quo.  The Council should play its role by providing a framework for the resumption of negotiations.  All parties should resume the peace process so that General Assembly resolution 181 (1947) could finally be implemented and Israelis and Palestinians could live side by side in peace.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH A AALOTAIBI (Kuwait) said the international community was “powerless” to ensure the implementation of Security Council resolutions pertaining to Palestine.  The Council’s rejection of the Arab States’ draft resolution on Palestine in December was virtually giving “the green light” for Israel to continue occupying Palestinian land.  Humanitarian tragedies in Gaza had continued and were an “inevitable result of the Council’s failure to take any action” with regard to Israel, which was perpetrating the most heinous violations of international and humanitarian law, including the demolition of houses, arrests and the expansion of settlements on occupied land.  He called on the Council to shoulder its Charter-based responsibilities and to help restart the peace process.  It was unacceptable, he said, for Israel to withhold Palestinian revenue.  He stressed the importance of the Human Rights Council’s commission of inquiry on Palestine.  Durable peace would not be achieved through sterile direct negotiations without a deadline.  Regarding Syria, he said a political settlement was needed.  He supported the Secretary-General’s efforts in the face of the alarming unprecedented humanitarian crisis, the most grave since the Second World War.

STEFAN BARRIGA (Liechtenstein), associating with the European Union, said that the recent ratification of the Rome Statute by the State of Palestine was especially important given the small number of States parties in the Middle East, and he called on other States to follow suit.  Ratifying the Rome Statute should be seen as a legally binding, multilateral commitment to ending impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, with a view to preventing such crimes from occurring in the first place.  The Court was not a one-sided political tool that could be employed by a party to a conflict, nor should it be used to “sue” any specific person or country.  Should an investigation be opened in Palestine, any and all Rome Statute crimes committed on Palestine’s territory could be scrutinized, no matter who committed them.  The recent ratification would open the door for the rule of law to make its mark in the long-standing Israeli-Palestine conflict.  On Syria, he said that demand for a referral to the Court remained as valid as ever despite a double veto in May last year in the Security Council.  The international community must explore all options that could bring some measure of justice to the victims of crimes in Syria.

VUSUMUZI NTONGA (Zimbabwe), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), called it regrettable that the Council “once again let down the Palestinian people” by failing to adopt the 30 December 2014 text, despite an overwhelming consensus that the Middle East status quo is unsustainable and continued to threaten international peace and security.  He condemned what he called Israel’s “flagrant, systematic violations of international law”, calling on the Council to play a more active role to encourage the resumption of peace talks leading to a two-State solution.  The recent wave of motions by European parliaments to recognize the Palestinian State was affirmation, he said, of international consensus on the need to end the occupation.  He reaffirmed the unflinching support of SADC for the Palestinian people.

NKOLOI NKOLOI (Botswana) said extremist activities and terrorist attacks were of particular concern and urged the Council to work in unison to condemn those human rights violations and bring the perpetrators to justice, including those responsible for the bomb attacks in Yemen and Lebanon.  He called for an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, noting the plight of millions of displaced women and children who were without food, shelter and medical care.  He also called on the international community and humanitarian organizations to respond in kindness and care to Syrian refugees.  On the question of Palestine, he said there was no alternative to the two-State solution.  The peace process could usher in the desired stability so longed for in the region.  The people of Israel and Palestine needed sustainable peace and development, he said, urging the parties to create an environment of mutual trust throughout negotiations in order to safeguard the integrity of the talks.  A stable, peaceful Middle East was in the broader interests of the people, the region and the global community.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco), noting the disappointments of the past year, said there was still hope in the hearts of the people who loved peace, however, despite Israel’s aggression, which caused disaster in Gaza and violations of the holy sites.  He noted his country’s aid for Gaza and its efforts to protect the sites in Jerusalem through its leadership of the Al Quds Committee.  Recounting the messages of the Committee, he said that any violation of the Al Aqsa mosque would lead to further violence.  His country would continue to support all efforts to establish a Palestinian State within pre-1967 borders.  Voicing concern over the suffering in Syria, he demanded that humanitarian aid reach those who needed it, and noted Morocco’s provision of mobile hospitals in refugee camps and its support for a political solution, as well for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria, as well as Lebanon.  On Yemen, he called on all players to support the efforts of the people to create a stable and democratic country.   Turning to the threat of extremist groups, he said that they were an abuse of Islam, and warned against allowing them to further divide States.

ISRAEL NITZAN (Israel), taking the floor a second time, said that Saudi Arabia had used the meeting as a platform for accusing Israel of abusing human rights, while that country was a world leader in such abuse.  Many peoples in that State were beheaded just in the past week and a blogger was being given 1,000 lashes for exercising free speech.  Reacting to what he called a barrage of lies by the Syrian representative, he said that country was responsible for the deaths of more than 200,000 of its citizens.  In addition, he said that the briefer this morning had omitted the fact that Iran had been supplying weaponry to Hizbullah, and earlier today, was threatening to launch a new wave of violence.  He maintained that the international community must address that, along with the fact that Turkey, too, had been sponsoring terrorism.  Israel was committed to reaching peace with the Palestinians, but the Palestinians had chosen to ally with Hamas instead of negotiating a peace agreement, as it had in 2012 when an agreement was within reach.  He finally recalled that a resolution to formalize arrangements for the reconstruction of Gaza had been opposed by the Palestinian Authority.

ABDULMOHSEN F. A. ALYAS (Saudi Arabia), taking the floor a second time, said it was strange that, during a discussion on the Middle East and the question of Palestine, Israel had blatantly attacked countries while it had, itself, violated international and humanitarian laws on a daily basis.  The Israeli delegate had also mocked those present today when it said Israel was dedicated to peace, he added.

Responding, Mr. Nitzan (Israel) said it was impossible to ignore that Saudi Wahhabism was at the heart of terrorism in the region and in Africa, including Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria.  Those terrorist groups were born from Saudi Wahhabism, he said.

For information media. Not an official record.