28 October 2019
8648th Meeting (AM & PM)

Preventive Diplomacy Needed to Ensure Lasting Peace in Middle East amid Dangerous Emerging Flashpoints, Special Coordinator Tells Security Council

South Africa’s Foreign Minister Tells Members to Find Ways to Repair Council’s Waning Credibility as Delegates Press for Resumed Peace Talks

The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process underlined today the urgent need for preventive diplomacy to ensure a fair and lasting peace as “new dangerous flashpoints emerge” in the region.

“The region cannot afford another war and we must continue our efforts to de‑escalate tensions and create openings for political solutions in the interest of peace,” Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov said by teleconference from Jerusalem, before the Council held a day‑long open meeting on the issue.

He noted a new political initiative in the form of an announcement by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of his intention to set a date for Palestinian elections, saying the international community should only support such a process if it strengthens national unity and not division.  For that purpose, agreement must be sought across Palestinian groups, in accordance with relevant legislation, international best practices and existing agreements.  He went on to welcome an agreement on Israel’s transfer of tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, calling for more progress on that front.

Unfortunately, facts on the ground continue to deteriorate and there are no prospects of final negotiations on the horizon, which pushes prospects for a two‑State solution even further away, he said, citing Israel’s continuing settlement activity and its seizure of Palestinian property in the West Bank as well as violence by settlers and various other security incidents, some of which resulted in casualties.

Concerning the situation in the Gaza Strip, he said that although overall violence in the enclave has fallen, hundreds of casualties still occur during protests at the fence forming the perimeter with Israel.  He reiterated concerns over the impact of such demonstrations on children, stressing Israel’s responsibility for restraint and that of Hamas to ensure the safety of children by preventing them from being “used and exposed to the risk of violence”.

Regarding other regional developments, he reported demonstrations in several countries, from Iraq to Lebanon, in which protestors are demanding an end to corruption and improvements in daily life, noting that they resulted in hundreds of fatalities.  As for Syria, he expressed hope that the launch of the Constitutional Committee will lead to a political agreement after nine years of devastating conflict in that country.

Following the briefing, the Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine said that, in light of the ever‑worsening situation, the Security Council can no longer shirk its responsibility to ensure that Israel abides by its resolutions.  All legitimate tools, including sanctions and court prosecution, must be used to make it do so, he emphasized.  He went on to urge the release of the database on businesses engaged in commerce with the settlements as well as non‑recognition of unilateral decisions affecting final status issues in order to ensure implementation of resolutions demanding an end to Israeli settlement activity.

Israel’s representative said it is a disgrace that the Council continues to target his country with recycled arguments rather than focusing on the devastation and ethnic cleansing currently being directed against Kurds and others in Syria and across the region.  As for terrorism by non‑State actors, he said it is sponsored by Iran and others, with each group seeking to impose a single religious leadership across the globe.  He urged the Council to adapt to a new world in which conflicts are driven largely by such actors, stressing the need for concerted action to cut off terrorists from their support and safe havens.

In the ensuing debate, most speakers affirmed the urgent need to resume the Israeli‑Palestinian peace process and pursue a two‑State solution, particularly in light of the turmoil in the region.  Many decried the humanitarian situation of Palestinians, urging Israel to abide by its obligations under international law, and the international community to provide adequate support for Gaza’s reconstruction and for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister for International Relations and Cooperation and Council President for October, described the failure to resolve the plight of Palestinians as a “profound mark” against the Council.  “Council resolutions have been breached and ignored,” she pointed out, expressing grave concern about continued disregard for the long‑standing peace process through the systematic foreclosing of final status issues, particularly borders, the return of refugees, the status of Jerusalem and the “ever expanding illegal settlements”.  “How is it possible to believe in this Council, in peace and security, in the face of such offending breaches of our decision?” she demanded.  “This Council must find ways to repair its damaged and waning credibility as a source of peace and security.”

Many delegates also called upon the parties to refrain from actions that undermine prospects for the resumption of peace talks, citing Israel’s settlement activity, confiscation of property and other harmful actions, as well as the need to end violence against Israelis.  Several also underlined the need for Palestinian reconciliation.

Jordan’s representative pointed out that her country has borne a large part of Syria’s humanitarian burden.  Emphasizing that forced displacement and mistrust have no place in a land holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths, she noted that the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) will consider UNRWA’s work in November.  Calling upon all Member States to provide the Agency with another mandate as well as financial support, she declared:  “This is a responsibility that is upon us all.”

Syria’s representative affirmed that the Syrian Golan is an integral part of his country, pointing out the confiscation of resources, evacuation of residents and other illegal practices in the region.  Others condone such actions, with the United States recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan, he said, while underlining that those decisions have no effect.

The representative of the United States, on the other hand, said debates in the Council pay disproportionate attention to the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict, an issue handled in a one‑sided manner.  If the Council is truly committed to peace in the Middle East, it should focus on and condemn violence by Hamas against civilians under its rule and its undermining of peace prospects, she said.

However, the Russian Federation’s representative cautioned against attempts to impose alternative schemes for resolving the conflict, describing the decision by the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights as a gross breach of international law.  He also criticized attempts to distract the Council’s attention from the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict in favour of “artificially inflated subjects”.

Also speaking today were representatives of Germany, France, Kuwait, Côte d’Ivoire, China, Equatorial Guinea, Poland, Peru, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, Belgium, Turkey, Norway, Brazil, Japan, Pakistan, Namibia, Qatar, Egypt, Croatia (on behalf of the European Union), Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Azerbaijan (on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement), Tunisia (on behalf of the Arab Group), Malaysia, Cuba, Algeria, Maldives, Iran, United Arab Emirates (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Bahrain, Ecuador and Nigeria.

Others delivering statements were the Permanent Observers for the Holy See and the League of Arab States.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m., suspended at 1:15 p.m., resumed at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 5:22 p.m.


NICKOLAY MLADENOV, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed members by teleconference from Jerusalem.  Describing the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict as “a multi‑generational tragedy for the peoples of this land”, he emphasized the importance of settling it “as new dangerous flashpoints emerge in the region”.  Recalling the announcement by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during the General Assembly that he intends to set a date for elections soon, he said “the international community should support this process if it strengthens national unity and not division”.  For that to happen, agreement is needed across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in accordance with relevant legislation, international best practices and an agreed national political platform based on existing agreements, he affirmed.

Unfortunately, facts on the ground continue to deteriorate, with no prospect of final negotiations on the horizon, pushing a two‑State solution even further away, he noted.  Citing Israel’s approval of additional settlement housing units, he reiterated that settlements are illegal under international law.  Demolitions and seizures of Palestinian‑owned structures also continue across the West Bank, he noted, calling upon Israel to stop such practices.  However, there was a welcome reduction of violence in the Gaza Strip, he reported, adding that the agreements brokered by the United Nations and Egypt continue to hold, although three people were killed and more than 500 injured during protests at the perimeter fence.

He went on to reiterate concerns over the impact of such demonstrations on children, stressing Israel’s responsibility for restraint and that of Hamas to ensure their safety by preventing them from being “used and exposed to the risk of violence”.  Six rockets were launched from Gaza during the reporting period, but no fires were caused by incendiary balloons, he said.  In the West Bank, meanwhile, two Palestinians, including one infant, died after inhaling tear gas and 88 were injured in various incidents, including violence by settlers.  Six Palestinian security personnel were injured by home‑made explosives during clashes with Palestinians and four Israelis, including security personnel, were injured, one by settlers, he reported.  Expressing particular concern over settler violence during the olive harvest, he described an alarming incident on 16 October in which Palestinian, Israeli and foreign volunteers were injured.  He called upon the Israeli authorities to ensure smooth access for Palestinians to their land, while reporting also that tensions between the authorities and residents of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Al‑Issawiya remain high.

As for the situation in Gaza, he cited progress in the provision of services, as reported by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in September, while emphasizing that the humanitarian situation remains dire nevertheless, particularly with injuries from protests exacerbating the lack of essential medications.  Aid is still needed, but political progress is key, he stressed, calling once again on all Palestinian factions to engage with Egypt on reconciliation efforts.  Welcoming the agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority allowing the transfer of clearance revenues, he said more work must be done to restore the transfers in full.  He also welcomed the Palestinian Cabinet’s 21 October decision to advance civil status laws in favour of women, while expressing concern over its blocking of websites deemed critical of the Palestinian Authority.

Concerning other regional developments, he reported demonstrations in several countries, from Iraq to Lebanon, in which protesters are demanding an end to corruption and improvements in daily life, noting that they resulted in hundreds of fatalities.  As for Syria, he expressed hope that the launch of the Constitutional Committee will lead to a political agreement after nine years of devastating conflict.  He added that the relative calm in the occupied Golan continues despite frequent violations of agreements.  Underlining the importance of preventive diplomacy in all such situations to defuse tensions before they turn into confrontation, he stressed:  “The region cannot affford another war and we must continue our efforts to de‑escalate tensions and create openings for political solutions in the interest of peace.”  Preventing war in Gaza is not just a matter of humanitarian assistance, he added, emphasizing the critical need for a path forward to intra‑Palestinian unity and ultimately a two‑State solution.  Similarly, tensions in the West Banks will only increase in the absence of political progress, he warned.  Sustainable peace must be based not only on diplomacy, but also on justice, human rights and international law.


RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, noted the monthly reports of the worsening situation as Israel, the occupying Power, intensifies its illegal occupation and colonization.  It cannot be that the Security Council is reduced to a gathering for the airing of grievances and helpless hand‑wringing, he emphasized.  Its mandate to maintain international peace and security requires more, he said, adding that its relevant resolutions, including resolution 2334 (2016) and all those preceding it, all provide a solid basis for action.  Pointing out that the international consensus is firm, he said attempts to alter or negate it have failed.  International law is clear, the parameters of a just solution are clear and there is no alternative to the vision of two States based on the 1967 lines, he added, citing the relevant resolutions:  the Madrid “land for peace” principle, the Arab Peace Initiative and the Middle East Quartet Roadmap.

In the absence of serious action, however, the alternative is rapidly unfolding, he said, describing it as an apartheid State in control of the lives of millions who are violently and unjustly deprived of their fundamental human rights.  The occupying Power has been led to believe it has carte blanche to act as a State above the law, he added, noting that it goes so far as to openly threaten to annex land in flagrant breach of the universal prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force, he said.  Nothing else can be expected in the absence of consequences for such grave violations, he said, appealing to the Security Council and all States to mobilize the political will to fulfil their obligations by taking practical measures under international law.  The Council must shoulder its responsibility to bring a halt to the occupation’s crimes, avert further destabilization, protect innocent civilians and salvage the chances for peace, he reiterated.

Should Israel continue to defy the Council and the will of the international community, it must bear the consequences of its violations, he continued, stressing that all legitimate tools must be used, including sanctions and court prosecutions, to ensure accountability.  There must be action pursuant to the call for distinction in resolution 2334 (2016) and other relevant texts, he said, urging States to take concrete steps in this regard, in both multilateral and bilateral frameworks.  He also reiterated calls for the release of the database on businesses engaged in activities related to the illegal settlements, as mandated by the Human Rights Council.  He emphasized that States also have a duty not to recognize any decisions or measures altering or purporting to alter the geographic, demographic character or status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in violation of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.  He went on to note the generous international support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and urged strong backing for the renewal of its mandate.

DANNY DANON (Israel), outlining major recent events in the Middle East, recalled that in a shocking recent aggression, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey launched a military operation in northern Syria as part of his mission to drag the region “down a neo‑Ottoman imperialist path”.  He said the President not only massacres Kurds in his own country, but is now doing so in neighbouring countries, forcing the displacement of thousands of people.  Noting that those actions have allowed members of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) to break out of prison, he also called attention to Turkey’s support for the terrorist organization Hamas and other actions that have turned that country into a safe haven and regional hub for terror groups.  Against that backdrop, it is a disgrace that the Council continues to target Israel, recycling old arguments, rather than focusing on the devastation and ethnic cleansing currently being caused by Turkey, he said.

He went on to note that certain States in the region have facilitated support for terrorist groups — and emboldened their actions — for years, citing Iran and the major threat posed by its ongoing pursuit of nuclear and ballistic capabilities.  Meanwhile, Iran‑supported militias are present in Yemen, Iraq, Libya, the Sinai Peninsula and elsewhere across the region, he added.  Hizbullah continues to strengthen its hold in western Syria, he said, adding that the Houthi Movement — formally known as Ansar Allah — continues to commit acts of violence in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.  Such terrorist groups do not all share the same ideology, but they all share one main goal:  to inaugurate a single religious leadership across the globe.  They undermine Governments, violate the rights of citizens and use brutal force against civilians, he said, adding that many have established camps on his country’s borders.  Israel will do everything possible to defeat them and keep its citizens safe, he vowed.

Such terror groups now pose a threat to the entire international community, he warned, pointing to recent attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities which affected consumers around the world.  He went on to state that when citizens are persecuted and terrorized in their own homes, they flee in search of safety, becoming refugees.  “The immigration crisis is a direct result of growing influence of terrorist forces in the region.”  Recalling that the Security Council was established to maintain international peace and security by confronting conflicts between States, he warned:  “That world no longer exists.”  The Council must now adapt to a world in which conflicts are driven largely by non‑State actors, he pointed out.  The international community must come together to restore stability to the Middle East, he added, outlining several priority actions.  Member States must recognize non‑State groups as designated terrorist groups and publicly condemn their actions; use intelligence to identify and cut off financial aid, including State support, to such forces; encourage countries in which those groups are located to take action against them; and, if all else fails, take military action against them.  He went on to thank the United States for its recent operation that killed ISIL/Da’esh leader Abu Bakr al‑Baghdadi, saying it is the Council’s moral obligation to ensure that terror groups do not hold people and States hostage.

NALEDI PANDOR, Minister for International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa and Council President for October, spoke in her national capacity, saying the failure to resolve the plight of the Palestinians is a “profound mark” against the Council.  Noting that South Africa’s own struggles were advanced by United Nations action and determination to end a crime against humanity, she emphasized the need for similar vigorous international solidary, indignation and commitment for Palestine.  “Council resolutions have been breached and ignored,” she pointed out.  “Of even greater concern is that the people of Palestine are a forgotten people and their hopes are dissipating in the face of diminishing world support and the absence of genuine attempts” at honest negotiations.

She went on to say that South Africa is gravely concerned about the continued disregard for the long‑standing Middle East peace process through the systematic foreclosing of the final status issues, particularly the borders, the return of refugees, the status of Jerusalem and the “ever‑expanding illegal settlements”.  Stressing that there is no intention to seek or achieve peace by those implementing these actions, she demanded:  “How is it possible to believe in this Council, in peace and security, in the face of such offending breaches of our decision?”  She added:  “This Council must find ways to repair its damaged and waning credibility as a source of peace and security.”

The Council must insist on regular written reports on the implementation of its decisions, particularly with respect to resolution 2334 (2016), she continued.  It must conduct the long‑overdue field visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory by those on the Council willing to do this and it must take further action against the continued violation of human rights and disregard for international law.  The Council cannot seem to condone violence and hostility, such as the building of further barriers and walls, closing of schools and killing of civilians, she said, stressing that it should act to ensure gestures of hope and the building of trust between the parties.  This requires, as a first step, firm statements of intolerance of violent infringements and other negative actions, she said.

ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany), associating herself with Croatia’s statement to be delivered on behalf of 27 other States, reaffirmed her delegation’s commitment to a negotiated two‑State solution that meets each side’s security needs, fulfils the Palestinian aspirations for statehood, ends the occupation, resolves all permanent status issues and guarantees equal rights for all inhabitants.  The issue is first and foremost a political one, she said, pointing out that addressing economic challenges is no substitute for a negotiated political solution.  Efforts to ensure the resumption of direct talks are critical as there is no fast track to peace, she emphasized, warning:  “Foregoing the most controversial questions of the peace process by taking them off the table or creating facts on the ground will not lead to a sustainable peace.”  She went on to call upon all parties to refrain from unilateral measures, reiterating that Israel’s settlement‑construction activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory are illegal and undermine the prospects for a two‑State solution.  Also concerning are allusions to plans to annex areas of the occupied West Bank, which would constitute a clear violation of international law, she said.  Condemning all attacks against Israel — including the repeated firing of rockets from Gaza — she expressed Germany’s commitment to that country’s security as a Jewish and democratic State.

KELLY CRAFT (United States) said the world is now a much safer place following the United States operation that targeted and killed ISIL/Da’esh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  She went on to state that the matter before the Council today receives a disproportionate amount of attention, and the relevant debates are unfairly negative and one-sided.  Hamas continues to commit and incite violence, posing one of the largest obstacles to peace and prosperity for the Palestinians, she said.  Indeed, if the Council is truly committed to peace in the Middle East, it should focus on Hamas and condemn its violence against civilians, peaceful protesters and journalists, she emphasized.  Urging all Member States to condemn the group’s behaviour, she said its members blindly fire hundreds of unguided rockets into Israel that are just as likely to hit a child as an adult.  Every Friday, Hamas encourages minors to join protests at the security fence, hoping that one will be injured, in order to feed its propaganda campaign, she said, adding that the Council has an obligation to say what is plainly true about human-rights abusers around the world.  Hopefully, one day soon the Council chamber will resound with the truth about Hamas, she added.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), condemning all who violate Israel’s security, warned the parties to avoid escalating the situation and diminishing the viability of a two-State solution.  Emphasizing the importance of all relevant resolutions, he said the Council’s jurisprudence on the matter is a package, “not an à la carte menu”, cautioning that any peace plan that distances itself from a two-State solution is an illusion.  Welcoming plans to hold free and fair elections across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he said that process should be part of an intra-Palestinian reconciliation process.  He also welcomed the recent initial agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the payment of revenues, but expressed worry about the former’s continuing settlement activities and its announcement of plans for a future annexation of parts of the West Bank.  Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains catastrophic, requiring the full lifting of the blockade as well as credible security assurances for Israel, he said.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) emphasized the binding nature of Security Council resolutions, while noting that Israel trampled them underfoot in its occupation of Palestinian lands.  No country has the right to refuse to implement those resolutions, but Israel defies them through its continuing practice of forcibly seizing land, settlement activities and other actions.  He called upon Council members to visit the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to take steps to end the occupation, including by considering such tools as sanctions.  He went on to express appreciation for UNRWA’s work and to reiterate his country’s support for a two-State solution to the conflict.

TIEMOKO MORIKO (Côte d’Ivoire), expressing deep concern over the impasse in the peace process and the sporadic violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said only constructive dialogue can lead to enduring solutions.  Calling for the immediate resumption of negotiations without preconditions, and supported by the United Nations, he emphasized the importance of both sides refraining from actions that undermine the prospects for talks, while affirming his country’s commitment both to Israel’s security and to the Palestinian people’s right to self‑determination.  He also called for further contributions to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Gaza and to foster peace and stability in the region.

ZHANG JUN (China) said the Palestinian question must be placed at the centre of the Council’s agenda, emphasizing that all parties must exercise the courage to honour commitments and uphold justice.  For a permanent settlement, a two-State solution remains the bottom line, with an independent State a right of the Palestinian people, he affirmed.  The parties must negotiate towards that goal through peaceful dialogue, stopping all actions that undermine prospects, including settlement activity and violence.  Favourable conditions for peace talks must be advanced, he said, adding that peace must be promoted through development at the same time.  Expressing deep concern over the situation in the broader Middle East, he cited statements by China and the Russian Federation on the need for a framework for peace across the region.

JOB OBIANG ESONO MBENGONO (Equatorial Guinea) expressed disappointment over the lack of progress in the peace process, while emphasizing that a two-State solution remains the only settlement for the long-term good.  Rejecting such a solution is rejecting multilateralism, he added, emphasizing the importance of making concessions and compromises in the interest of settling all final status issues.  Expressing concern that settlement activity and attacks against Israel undermine the prospects for peace, he expressed support for efforts at intra-Palestinian reconciliation.  He went on to urge adequate support for UNRWA, while assuring that Equatorial Guinea will support any initiative for peace that is consistent with international law.  “Israel and Palestine must recognize each other’s right to exist,” he stressed.

JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) urged the Council to seek an end to the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict by reviving the peace process.  A return to meaningful bilateral negotiations, based on relevant United Nations resolutions and international law, could only bring positive input to the process, she said, while encouraging the parties to act in favour of reconciliation and to safeguard the dignity and sanctity of holy sites, particularly in Jerusalem.  She went on to reiterate that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) provides the stability needed in its mandated area of operation.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) warned against recent attempts to distract the Council’s attention from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in favour of “artificially inflated subjects”, emphasizing that today more than ever, practical measures are needed to break the long-standing deadlock.  Citing his country’s support for efforts to revive direct dialogue between the parties, he called first and foremost for an end to Israel’s settlement activities in the West Bank, while stressing that both parties must refrain from aggressive actions and rhetoric.  “In isolation, no breakthroughs can be achieved,” he said, cautioning against attempts to impose alternative schemes to resolve the conflict.  He went on to describe recent United States policies — including its recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights — as a gross breach of international law.  Warning that extremists are exploiting ethnic and religious hatred to incite violence and swell their ranks, he called upon States to take a close look at Iran’s initiative on confidence-building measures in the Strait of Hormuz, and welcomed modest progress towards de-escalation in Yemen.  In Syria, meanwhile, the Russian Federation supports efforts to push forward progress on the political track, while recognizing that Syrians alone are in charge of their own future, he said.

PAUL DUCLOS (Peru) said the inflexible positions adopted by the parties, as well as the absence of dialogue, have resulted in a highly volatile situation on the ground, with fatalities — including minors — continuing.  Calling on the parties to halt all violence and ensure accountability for serious crimes, he warned that “impunity exacerbates the conflict and contributes to normalizing disdain for human rights.”  The harmful practice of settlement construction and related rights violations must cease, he said, calling also for a full rejection of anti-Semitism and hate speech.  He called upon the Council to show itself capable of reaching “a minimum consensus” on the issue, while warning that deteriorating living standards may result in increased radicalization.  The Council must address the risk of further escalation in the Middle East as a matter of urgency, he stressed.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said Israel must be held accountable for its illegal actions.  Indonesia condemns the continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and the intended annexation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  Sustaining humanitarian assistance is critical in the face of the blockade of Gaza and the relentless expansion of settlements, violence and demolition of property on the West Bank.  UNRWA’s role is critical as a lifeline and a safeguard for the Palestinian people’s right of return, he said.  The international community needs to ensure the continuation of the Agency’s work.  In addition, the international community must consolidate its efforts to reverse the negative trends of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that threaten international peace and security.  Indonesia is committed to all efforts to bring the peace process back on track, based on internationally agreed parameters, relevant United Nations resolutions and previous agreements, he said.

JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) called upon Israel to desist from settlement construction and annexation and to address violence by settlers.  He also called for maintaining the status quo governing religious sites.  Reiterating the need to refrain from injuring civilians at the Gaza security fence, he said it is unacceptable for Hamas to expose children to violence there.  He went on to welcome Israel’s transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority and urged continued efforts to meet all requirements of the Oslo Accords in that area.

JOSÉ MANUEL TRULLOLS YABRA (Dominican Republic) expressed his delegations continuing deep concern over the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and over Israel’s potential annexation of certain areas.  In that regard, he called for the end of demolition and confiscation of Palestinian property, as well as for significant and just dialogue on obstacles to the realization of self‑determination for Palestinians.  At the same time, it is vital to ensure Israel’s security, he stressed.  Calling for an international response to the pressing humanitarian needs in Gaza, he recognized UNRWA’s work and the challenges confronting it, calling for adequate funding of the Agency, while urging all parties to refrain from actions that undermine prospects for a two‑State solution.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) called on all factions to invest in a credible electoral process for Palestinians while also engaging in good‑faith reconciliation efforts.  Welcoming the revenue transfers, he encouraged the two sides to resume dialogue in order to find a lasting solution to the conflict.  He went on to express concern over the effects of continuing settlement policy, and called for measures to stop settler violence.  He also called for an end to the confiscation of Palestinian property and for maintaining the status quo at religious sites.  Urging Israel to allow peaceful demonstrations in Gaza, he also stressed the importance of extremists not hijacking protests.  Reiterating that the two‑State formula is the only way to peace, he said it can only last if it addresses the legitimate needs of all parties involved.

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said failure to focus on the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict risks further destabilizing the Middle East, leading to more radicalization and extremism.  Israel — which commits serious violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory — is in no position to lecture other countries on such matters, he emphasized.  A recent report by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry found that Israeli soldiers committed rights violations during the 2018 Great March of Return, some of which may constitute war crimes, he said.  Asking Israel’s representative to account for such violations, he said that country’s settlement activities, intended to create new realities on the ground, are both worrying and unacceptable.  Urging Israel to cease all such actions, he warned that attempts to deny the historical and legal rights of the Palestinian people will only deepen their sense of injustice and breed desperation.  He went on to express concern about the situation in Gaza, saying that tragedy is compounded by the worst financial crisis in UNRWA’s history.  Member States have an obligation to support the Agency with a strong mandate and more predictable and sustainable funding, he stressed.  “The latest developments remind us once again of the urgency of revitalizing the peace process,” he said, calling for collective action in support of international law in the Middle East.

SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan) said that segregation, forced displacement and mistrust have no place in a land that is holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths.  Urging the parties to work with the international community to break the deadlock and end Israel’s occupation, she emphasized nevertheless that the latter’s aggression and continued settlement activities are undermining the peace process.  She went on to note that the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) will consider the work of UNRWA in November and called upon all Member States to provide the Agency with another mandate as well as financial support.  “This is a responsibility that is upon us all,” she stressed, calling for concerted support for the 5.5 million Palestine refugees under UNRWA’s care until a lasting sustainable solution to the conflict can be reached.  She went on to stress that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Syria and called for efforts to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees, many of whom are hosted by Jordan.  She also pointed out that her country has borne a large part of the humanitarian burden in Syria, renewing Jordan’s call for more international contributions in that respect.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) noted that the United Nations once had lofty ambitions, but a handful of Western countries have attempted to hijack the Organization and use it for their own purposes.  In that context, the United Nations has legitimized invasions, occupations and the creation of artificial crises, he said, adding that at the same time, the Council has for decades been unable to reverse Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian and other lands.  Pointing out that each report of the Special Coordinator quickly passes over the occupation of the Golan, he asked whether the United Nations has become totally ineffectual in dealing with such situations.  The Syrian Golan is undergoing the confiscation of its resources, the evacuation of its residents and other illegal practices that are condoned by others, with the United States recognizing Israel’s annexation of the region, he said, while underlining that those decisions have no effect.  The Syrian Golan is an integral part of Syria, he affirmed, calling upon Israel to release detainees and realize the aspirations of Palestinians for their own State.

MONA JUUL (Norway) expressed deep concern over the destabilizing consequences of Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, both for the fight against ISIL and for the humanitarian situation.  Emphasizing that all refugee returns must be voluntary, dignified and safe, she said Norway will not support any resettlement of refugees in northern Syria that do not meet those criteria.  Turning to the question of revenue transfers, she recalled that the Norway‑chaired Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, the principal policy‑level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, met in New York in September and called for immediate steps to resume the transfer of revenues collected by Israel to the Palestinian Authority.  She went on to express her delegation’s concern about reported plans to annex large areas of the West Bank, underlining that any future Israeli decision to change the occupied West Bank’s status will have no international legal effect.

RICARDO DE SOUZA MONTEIRO (Brazil) reiterated his delegation’s support for a two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, encouraging both sides to seek a constructive political environment.  Noting the fragile humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, he said a just and comprehensive settlement can only be achieved by both sides making difficult decisions and concessions.  Concerning Syria, he encouraged the Council to find common ground and establish a lasting ceasefire in Idlib, also urging all parties involved to exercise maximum restraint and ensure safe access for humanitarian assistance in the country’s north-eastern region.  As such, Brazil welcomes the establishment of the Constitutional Committee as well as its first meeting, to be held in Geneva, he said, emphasizing that a Syrian-owned and Syrian-led political process facilitated by the United Nations will bring lasting peace.  Condemning the strikes against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in September, he said they have heightened the risk of expanding the war in Yemen into a wider regional conflict.  As such, he urged the parties to seek a comprehensive political solution while ensuring the provision of continued and unimpeded humanitarian assistance.

KORO BESSHO (Japan), reiterating his delegation’s commitment to a two-State solution, said its viability is undermined by continued settlement activities and the demolition of Palestinian homes.  Urging Israel to cease such actions, he voiced concern about the continued violence in both Gaza and the West Bank, strongly condemning all attacks and terrorism against innocent civilians and calling on the parties to take immediate steps to prevent them.  Describing the elections announced by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as fundamental for democracy, he spotlighted UNRWA’s critical importance and recalled that Japan has already disbursed more than $32 million to the Agency, with an additional $11 million on the way.  Noting that every country can contribute to establishing an environment conducive to peace efforts, he recalled that in 2013, Japan — together with regional partners — initiated the Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development, which is now being joined by an increasing number of civil society and private-sector partners.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) told of a growing tide of complex and interconnected challenges pushing the Middle East towards a vortex of violence and instability.  Noting that the situation is clouded by the competing and divergent interests of the world’s major powers, with non-State actors exploiting that turmoil to gain a foothold in the region, she said the actions of such groups — including the PKK [Kurdish Workers’ Party] — have created legitimate security concerns for States.  Any framework for regional peace must be built on the foundation of mutual respect, she emphasized.  Calling upon all parties to abandon the pursuit of narrow national interests, she said any international involvement must be based on multilateralism.  Indeed, unilateral measures only cause suffering to civilians, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, she said.  Describing Israel’s continued settlement expansion and the looming threat of annexation as major obstacles to the peace process, she noted that Jammu and Kashmir marked its seventy-second anniversary of illegal occupation on 27 October.  Palestinians will soon mark the same anniversary of their own illegal partition, she added, underlining that all attempts at subjugation ultimately fail.  “The darkness of occupation will one day yield to the light,” she declared.

NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said no concrete steps have been taken in implementation of resolution 2334 (2016) to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”  Israel has advanced 3,000 illegal housing units in the occupied West Bank, including 400 in East Jerusalem, he said, describing the settlements as illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace and a two-State solution.  “We are also extremely concerned at statements made on Israel’s annexation of the Jordan Valley,” he said.  Noting that Israel’s demolition and seizure of Palestinian-owned structures also constitute obstacles to peace, he said Namibia is particularly alarmed by the 22 June demolition of nine buildings in East Jerusalem’s Wadi Hummus neighbourhood, most of them in Areas B and C of the West Bank, which is under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.  He went on to express concern about UNRWA’s ongoing financial shortfall, noting the Agency’s important role in Gaza, where it runs 275 schools, 22 health centres and 16 relief and social services offices.  While overall levels of violence have fallen, Gaza’s health system is on the brink of collapse, with 44 per cent of essential medicines depleted in July, he said, emphasizing that UNRWA’s health centres remain crucial against this backdrop.  On the Palestinian Authority’s fiscal crisis, he said it is destabilizing a volatile situation, adding that parties must implement and respect their bilateral agreements.

Speaking in his capacity as Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, he also noted the recurrent and rising tensions in Jerusalem at the holy sites, including provocations at the Al‑Aqsa Mosque.  He urged Israeli authorities to abide by international law and to avoid actions that undermine an already fragile situation.  On Gaza, he said that the situation remains volatile as weekly “Great March of Return” demonstrations and ensuing casualties among Palestinian civilians have continued.  The dire economic situation, combined with scarcity of essential medicines, is causing a health-care crisis.  In September, UNRWA was able to reopen 709 schools, allowing 530,000 refugee children to continue their education, he said.  The Agency’s financial situation remains challenging, albeit improved following pledges made at the Ministerial Meeting on 26 September in New York.  He called on all Member States to provide reliable funding to deliver critical humanitarian services to Palestinian refugees, as well as to continue to support the Agency’s mandate.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) agreed with other speakers that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the core issue in the Middle East and that ending it is a precondition for restoring peace and stability in the region.  Calling for an end to Israel’s occupation and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian State, she said Qatar provided $480 million for the Palestinian Authority’s budget in 2019, as well as humanitarian assistance and fuel for Gaza.  On Syria, she called for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in that country, in accordance with the Geneva Communiqué and Council resolution 2254 (2016) and in a way that preserves its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.  She went on to warn against external interference in Libya and to call for dialogue with a view to restoring security and stability in Yemen.  The Council must work to defuse tensions and to end all violations of international law, she said, describing the unilateral coercive measures imposed against her country and the cybercrimes committed against Qatar’s news agency as unjustifiable.

MOHAMED FOUAD AHMED (Egypt) expressed concern over Israel’s stated intention to annex parts of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea, as well as its plans to build new settlements, in violation of resolution 2334 (2016).  Pledging to continue to provide assistance to the Palestinians, he also expressed concern about Israel’s attempts to alter the demographic character of Jerusalem.  He expressed hope that a just, comprehensive solution will be found that ends the suffering of the Palestinian people and establishes a sovereign Palestinian State.  In the meantime, he called upon all Member States to support UNRWA’s critical humanitarian role.

IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), also speaking on behalf of 27 other members of the European Union, said the bloc advocates for a negotiated two‑State solution to finally end the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict.  Noting that the political and security situation in Gaza remains volatile and the humanitarian situation a matter of grave concern, he said continuing violence in the region makes restoring a political horizon for peace essential.  Strong, inclusive, accountable and functioning democratic Palestinian institutions based on respect for the rule of law and human rights are vital for a two‑State solution.  Taking note of the announcement by President Abbas to hold elections, he said a date should be set very soon to hold the poll in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in Gaza.  He called on all Palestinian factions to unequivocally commit to democratic principles prior to the elections, adding that it is still possible to reach peace based on a two‑State solution if credible steps are taken.  “Ultimately […] it is the lack of implementation of international law that is the real challenge to the achievement of peace and security in the Middle East,” he said.

Describing the situation in Syria as “one of the worst crises of our times”, he said the Turkish incursion has significantly undermined progress to defeat Da’esh, which remains a threat to Europe, the region and the world, while also making prospects for a United Nations‑facilitated peace process in the country far more difficult.  Greater efforts, including in the Council, are needed to bring the military action to a permanent halt, he said, adding that Turkey’s security concerns should be addressed through political and diplomatic means, in full accordance with international law and international humanitarian law.  He underscored the European Union’s strong support for the United Nations‑led process in Geneva and the Special Envoy’s efforts and reiterated the bloc’s call for the situation in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court.  He added that the European Union will continue to consider further sanctions against the Syrian regime and that the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons should be robustly monitored.

DINH NHO HUNG (Viet Nam) said hope for a just and viable peace process is waning amid provocations, violence against innocent civilians and demolition and seizure of Palestinian structures.  According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, during the first half of October 2019, one Palestinian was shot dead and 261 Palestinians, including 127 children, were injured by Israeli forces in Gaza protests; and 37 Palestinians, including two children, were injured in the West Bank protests.  Stressing the urgent need to avoid further deterioration by de‑escalating tensions on the ground, he condemned both firing against Palestinian demonstrators and rocket launching into Israel.  Citing illegal occupation as the root cause of the conflict and illegal settlements as the biggest obstacle to the peace process, he called on Israel to cease them.   Israel must lift restrictions on people’s movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he said, reiterating full support for the UNRWA mandate.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said that the briefings about Yemen that the Council heard recently illustrate the country’s dire humanitarian situation.  A nationwide ceasefire is essential.  In Syria, glimmers of hope began to shine at the end of September, with the announcements of the long‑awaited formation of the Constitutional Committee.  However, recent events in the northeast of the country are cause for great concern.  The Palestinian question is also very concerning, with the Council’s credibility being questioned because of its failure to implement its own resolutions.  The Council must use its abilities to realize the objective of the creation of an independent Palestinian State, living in peace and security alongside Israel, he said.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), aligning himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said that meaningful and strong political and legal action is still needed from the Council to end Israel’s illegal, decades‑long foreign occupation.  He condemned what he called limitless aggression by Israelis that he said is exhibited by numerous harms against Palestinians.  He reaffirmed commitment to them in their realization of inalienable rights.  Expressing deep concern over socioeconomic conditions of Palestinians, he added that the international community must deliver on its commitment to leave no one behind in pursuit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  In that context, he urged greater support for UNRWA.  Stating, in addition, that Israel must face accountability for atrocities, he called for full application of international law in the situation and reaffirmed support for the accession of the State of Palestine to all relevant international organizations as well as timely implementation of all relevant Council resolutions.  He pledged that his country will continue to stand at the side of Palestinians in their effort to achieve their State.

ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), calling for the international community to act strongly in response to the grave threat represented by attacks on his country’s oil fields, said that those who supported such terrorism must face consequences.  His country does not seek war, he said, but will not hesitate in protecting its citizens and resources.  Affirming the importance of dialogue, he cautioned, however, that those who call for it must not at the same time foment violence.  Turning to the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict, he said that the solution of that crisis is already known, that is, the end of the long occupation and the implementation of the two‑State framework.  He noted his country’s significant contributions to UNRWA in that context.  He also called for elimination of armed militias in Syria that are serving foreign interests, and affirmed his country’s support for the people of Yemen, noting $14 billion in aid and sponsorship of talks between varied stakeholders.  He called on the international community to take all necessary measures to implement the Stockholm agreement in Yemen, which he said is being delayed by the Houthi militias.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) called on Israel to refrain from any acts of violence or policies imposed against the Palestinian people, which violate international law or erode the viability of a two‑State solution.  In that regard, he warned that the stated intention to annex parts of the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea pose serious threats to the peace process.  Emphasizing that Jerusalem must be retained as the common heritage of mankind, he recalled that Morocco and Jordan launched a joint initiative earlier in 2019 to ward against attempts to alter the city’s historical character.  The international community must shoulder its responsibility to end the Israeli‑Palestinian stalemate — which has only resulted in more tensions and violence — by bringing the parties back to the negotiating table for talks based on good will and an established timeframe, he said.

NAHIDA BAGHIROVA (Azerbaijan), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled that the bloc’s Ministerial Committee on Palestine adopted a political declaration five days ago in support of the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights.  The Security Council has been for too long unable to fulfil its mandate on the Question of Palestine due to the use of veto by one permanent member.  Council resolution 2334 (2016) provides the only viable path to peace based on a two-State solution.  The Movement calls for implementation of all other relevant resolutions, including those aimed at stopping Israel’s settlement activities.  The Movement also calls again for completely lifting Israel’s blockade of Gaza, where more than 2 million Palestinians face untold humanitarian, social and economic suffering.

Expressing grave concern about the lack of accountability for all violations committed by Israel — many of which may amount to war crimes — she said that “the absence of justice only fosters greater impunity, leads to the recurrence of crimes and destabilizes the situation on the ground, thus further diminishing the prospects for peace.”  Regarding the occupied Syrian Golan, she said that Israel’s 14 December 1981 decision and other actions are null and have no legal validity, also condemning the unilateral and arbitrary proclamation of the United States on “recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel”.  Moreover, the Movement empathizes with the need for Israel to withdraw from all Lebanese territories up until the Blue Line, in accordance with Council resolution 1701 (2006).

SAMI BOUGACHA (Tunisia), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that Israel’s defiance of dozens of Council resolutions has resulted in the prolonged suffering of Palestinians and threatened stability in the region.  In order to allow Palestinians to realize their rights, the Council must assume its responsibilities and hold Israel accountable, he stressed.  Describing Israeli policies that he said will further undermine the two-State solution, he said Arab countries are working for peace as a strategic choice, but will not abide by continued flouting of agreements and attempts to change the historic and legal status of East Jerusalem.

He called on countries not to recognize Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem and to affirm status quo arrangements on the holy sites.  He called for implementation of all Council resolutions, particularly those that prohibit further settlement activity.  He also called for adequate funding for UNRWA.  In addition, he reaffirmed commitment to a two-State solution based on previous agreements and the Arab Peace Plan.  He pledged that the Group will continue to stand with the State of Palestine in its efforts to become a fully-fledged member of the United Nations.

MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ, Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States, expressed extreme concern over the electoral process in Israel, which he said left no partner for peace talks.  He reiterated the need for a two-State solution for the conflict based on resolution of all final status items and previous Security Council resolutions.  The rights of Palestinians must be realized.  They must be allowed their right to return, and, in addition, UNRWA must be adequately supported.  He commended all efforts of the United Nations to end the suffering of the Palestinians, including reporting on Israeli practices such as settlement activity.

Turning to Iran, he said that Tehran is supporting forces that are harming the entire region.  In response, the Ministerial Council of the League has reaffirmed its unswerving approach to the crisis, condemning Iranian support for acts of aggression in the Gulf.  He called for regional and international efforts to counter threats to energy security, port facilities and other resources in line with international law.  Iran must be encouraged to shoulder its responsibilities as a United Nations Member State.  On Syria, he looked forward to détente, beginning with the establishment of the Constitutional Committee.  He relayed the League’s condemnation of the aggression by Turkey following the United States’ withdrawal from northern Syria.  Commending the ceasefire there, he called for withdrawal of Turkish forces and assurance of respect for Syria’s territorial integrity, including its sovereignty over the Golan Heights.  Finally, he pledged the League’s continued support for United Nations representatives in Libya, Yemen and elsewhere to bring peace and security to the Middle East.

MOHD HAFIZ BIN OTHMAN (Malaysia) said solidarity with the Palestinian people “must not be embedded just in empathy”.  The international community owes it to them to do everything possible to end their long ordeal.  Malaysia continues to extend support to UNRWA, not as a matter of charity but as part of its responsibility to protect and promote human rights and dignity.  Warning that the recent violence in Gaza and the West Bank undermines hope for a peaceful settlement, he stressed that “we cannot continue to stand idle and allow Israel to […] execute a brutal occupation and repressive policies” that violate international law and numerous United Nations resolutions.  Rejecting its ongoing settlement activities and any unilateral actions on the status of Jerusalem, he called on the international community to act swiftly and decisively to avoid further loss of innocent Palestinian life.  Expressing support for a two-State solution, he said the Council “must act now” to reverse any threats to that framework.

HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said Israel brazenly continues to expand its settlements into occupied areas and is now threatening to annex parts of the Jordan Valley.  Condemning those illegal, colonialist policies — as well as punitive demolitions, forced displacement and the increased indiscriminate use of force — he declared:  “The international community cannot remain silent.”  Council members must demand Israel’s compliance with its resolutions, he stressed, voicing support for a two‑State solution as the only viable way forward.  In that context, he rejected all unilateral measures, as well as the so-called “deal of the century” devised by the United States, which does not seek to establish a State of Palestine.  He also condemned in the strongest terms the United States’ decision to recognize the occupied Syrian Golan as Israeli territory; rejected the imposition of Washington, D.C.’s illegal coercive economic measure against Iran; and expressed concern over the former’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran nuclear deal).  Also condemning the recent attacks against Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, he urged all parties in the region to exercise restraint.

SOFIANE MIMOUNI (Algeria) said that many States in the region are in turmoil, with the United Nations not able to effectively foster conflict prevention.  At the heart of all this conflict, he maintained, is the Palestinian-Israeli crisis, as Israel reneges on all commitments to establish a Palestinian State and commits brutal crimes as an occupying Power.  The Security Council must fulfil its obligations and ensure accountability for crimes and provide protection to the Palestinian people.  Israel must not be allowed to impose a fait accompli on the area and must allow Palestinians to realize self-determination.  He called on the United Nations to shoulder its responsibility and repel all unjust actions and to counter Israeli oppression and confiscation.  He called on the Council to create the conditions to end the impasse and help bring about a sovereign Palestinian State.  Noting his country’s support for peace and non-intervention in the internal affairs of Arab countries, he supported initiatives in Syria and elsewhere designed to bring parties together for dialogue.  He warned of further deterioration in the Middle East, however, if the Organization does not fully shoulder its responsibilities there.

ASIM AHMED (Maldives), noting further deterioration of Palestinian human rights over the past year, highlighted the limited supply of electricity in Gaza, which has compromised the water supply, sewage treatment and hospital operations.  Moreover, the Israeli Government has continued to limit the movement of people and goods into and out of Gaza and accelerated the unlawful transfer of Israeli citizens to settlements in the occupied West Bank.  Turning to the Syrian conflict, he said it has had dire consequences for international security, with the mass exodus of refugees further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.  Adding that the conflict is locked in a stalemate with no end in sight, he said the international community must make greater efforts to reinvigorate talks in reaching a peaceful settlement.  On the war in Yemen, he said the international community must do more to alleviate the dire situation of the most vulnerable, with peace and prosperity placed at the heart of conflict resolution efforts.

ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the OIC, said none of the more than 360 Council resolutions adopted on the Israeli‑Palestinian issue have been implemented.  “Rather, the Israeli regime has continued, with total impunity, to pursue its illegal policies and brutal practices,” he said, including its systematic commission of all four core international crimes.  Israel has waged over 15 wars, invaded all of its neighbours and conducts aggressions against countries across the region.  Meanwhile, it is developing weapons of mass destruction, refuses to join any related treaties and has brazenly threatened a country of the region with nuclear annihilation.  Moreover, Israeli forces continue to brutally kill innocent Palestinians, having wounded more than 31,000 during the Great March of Return.  The actions of that “outlaw regime” have serious impacts on international instruments and institutions, and gravely erode the credibility of the United Nations.  “To preserve international peace and security, no nation must be left unheard, unnoticed, unattended, frustrated and despaired,” he stressed, calling on the Council to live up to its responsibilities.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), speaking on behalf of OIC, reiterated the group’s commitment to a two‑State solution in which an independent Palestinian State lives side‑by‑side with Israel in peace and security.  Calling on the Council to implement effective measures to put an end to the conflict — including by compelling Israel to halt its illegal policies — she recalled that OIC members rejected the announced intention to annex parts of the West Bank in a September resolution.  Describing the unlawful effort to alter the historical status and demographic composition of occupied East Jerusalem as another source of concern, she said OIC members are also worried about the deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially the Gaza Strip.  The harsh living conditions there — including lack of medicine, high unemployment rates and limited supplies of water and electricity — are spreading despair among Gaza’s two million residents, leading to what UNRWA called an “epidemic deterioration of mental health conditions”.  Making several recommendations, she said the Council should prioritize efforts to create conditions conducive to peace by reversing negative trends.  Among other things, that requires halting any illegal settlement activities, salvaging the proposed two‑State solution, providing support to UNRWA and ensuring Israel’s full withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan.

JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said that a consistent implementation of the Charter of the United Nations is critical for maintaining peace throughout the Middle East and beyond.  In that light, all countries must refrain from threatening each other and upending stability while they fight terrorism and pursue other goals.  He stressed that the Palestinian right to self‑determination must be realized in accordance with previous agreements and resolutions.  On Syria, he rejected interference by foreign forces while supporting a Syrian‑led peace process.  Commending efforts to bring about the end of the conflict in Yemen, he pledged his country’s efforts to support them in accordance with the outcome of the internationally‑recognized peace processes there.  In addition, he recounted efforts of his country to mobilize countries in support of protecting maritime navigation around the Gulf.

LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern that Israeli settlement expansion, home demolitions and seizures continue in contravention of resolution 2334 (2016) and international law.  Condemning all acts of terror — no matter their perpetrators — he voiced concern about the economic situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and called on the international community to make tangible progress in supporting negotiations towards a lasting two-State solution.  Spotlighting the importance of preventive diplomacy, he also underlined Ecuador’s support for UNRWA and the Agency’s important work.

SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated his country’s call for the creation of a viable, contiguous State of Palestine based on previous agreements and Council resolutions, as part of a two-State solution.  All parties should take the necessary measures to create a conducive climate to reach that goal.  He called on Israel to freeze settlement activity and for the State of Palestine to build confidence by assuring willingness to return to the negotiating table and by presenting a unified posture.  The support of the international community is critical for that process, but most important is that painful sacrifices be made by both Israelis and Palestinians.

BEN BOURGEL (Israel), taking the floor a second time in response to the statement delivered by the representative of Iran, said the latter country imports missiles, encourages terrorism and exports its devastating ideology into Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Persian Gulf.  Characterizing those actions as an attempt to destabilize the region, he said Iran is trying to make Syria a “launching pad for attacks against Israel”.  The Council must firmly condemn Iranian intervention in neighbouring countries, he stressed, expressing particular concern about the recent use of precision-guided missiles by Hizbullah.

For information media. Not an official record.