It is my pleasure to send greetings to the participants in the United Nations Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People. I thank the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People for keeping the international community’s attention focused on this important subject.
Within weeks after political efforts towards a negotiated two-State solution reached an impasse, the situation on the ground grew more fragile. I condemn in the strongest terms the murder of the three Israeli teenagers abducted on 12 June in the West Bank. There can be no justification for the deliberate killing of civilians. I sincerely hope that Israeli and Palestinian authorities will work together to bring the perpetrators swiftly to justice, and I extend my deepest sympathy to the families of the victims. I call on all parties to abide by their obligations under international law and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate this highly tense situation.
I reiterate my call for both sides to resume meaningful negotiations with international engagement and support, and to address the much needed political horizon in order to avert further instability on the ground and to revive work towards achieving a durable peace.For the two-State solution to be salvaged, both parties must honour their commitment to resolve all permanent status issues, in accordance with Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles, the Road Map, the 2002 Arab Peace initiative and existing agreements between the parties. They must also refrain from unilateral acts that diminish the prospects for a resumption of negotiations.
I am also concerned about persisting negative trends in the West Bank, including the recent killings of Palestinians, and the negative repercussions on the civilian population due to ongoing operations. I am extremely concerned about Israel’s continuing settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which is illegal under international law and contradicts Israel’s Road Map obligations. Demolitions of Palestinian homes and property in East Jerusalem and Area C also contravene Israel’s obligation to protect the civilian population under its occupation.
The calm in Gaza has been shattered with resumed rocket firing on a near daily basis and Israeli retaliatory operations. I continue to condemn indiscriminate rocket firing and call on all parties to avoid any loss of civilian life. The persisting dire economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza remains of serious concern. I repeat my call for immediate steps to improve conditions and ensure a full opening of crossings into Gaza, including Rafah, to allow legitimate trade and movements of people, which is essential for creating economic opportunities for Palestinians.
Strengthening Palestinian institutions and improving governance is key to stimulating investment and development in the occupied Palestinian territory. Going forward, it will be important to shore up support for the Palestinian National Development Plan 2014-16.
As we face an increasingly volatile situation on the ground and in the wider region, the message is clear: negotiations and compromise are essential to achieve a viable long-term settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Without a credible political horizon, the Oslo paradigm is in real jeopardy. The international community must help and urge the parties to reshape parameters around the globally agreed goal - an end of the occupation that began in 1967; making way for an independent, sovereign, viable and prosperous Palestinian State, living side by side in peace with Israel within secure and recognized borders; and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
In this spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful event.