I am grateful to Norway for convening and chairing this important forum.
This meeting takes place against the backdrop of an extremely challenging and volatile situation on the ground.
I have been particularly worried about developments since the suspension of peace negotiations in late April.
The absence of a credible political horizon is having severe consequences.
As we have seen with the recent devastation in the Gaza Strip and rising tensions and violence in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, it is becoming increasingly difficult to contain the situation.
The parties, with the support of the international community, must urgently reverse the negative trend.
I am hopeful that the open-ended ceasefire for Gaza, brokered under Egyptian auspices, will serve as a prelude to a political process as the only way of achieving durable peace.
Any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence. The closure of Gaza must end while addressing Israel's legitimate security concerns. Gaza must now be opened up for reconstruction and recovery to address the unprecedented destruction.
It is time for sustainable, transformational change in the Gaza Strip. Gaza and the West Bank must be brought back under the effective authority of one legitimate Palestinian Government that adheres to the PLO commitments. There are some real challenges ahead for the Government of National Consensus in this regard which may require our support.
The United Nations stands ready to support efforts to address the structural factors of conflict between Israel and Gaza.
The current situation in Gaza is dire, with many people still displaced, unprecedented damage to social and economic infrastructure, and critical shortages of water and energy. I welcome the tripartite agreement between the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations on the secure entry of constructions materials into Gaza. I also welcome the planned reconstruction conference co-sponsored by Egypt and Norway, to be held on 12 October in Cairo.
The people of Gaza deserve a better future.
The cycle of building and destroying must end. It is time for sustainable, transformational change in the Gaza Strip.
I am encouraged that this Committee is meeting today to discuss Palestinian-Israeli economic cooperation. While much of our focus remains on Gaza, we must give new attention to the West Bank.
I hope your discussions point the way towards fiscal sustainability for the PA and economic viability for Palestine.
Such positive measures are mutually reinforcing, would result in tangible benefits on the ground and foster badly needed trust. All of these efforts must be put into a revised and credible political framework. They must restore prospects for a two-state solution by returning to meaningful negotiations towards a final status agreement that fulfills the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians – for an end to the occupation that began in 1967; for Israel to live within secure and recognized borders; and for an independent State of Palestine living alongside Israel in peace and prosperity.
I appreciate Norway’s continued efforts to enable this dialogue.
I hope the deliberations today will help ensure continued support for the Palestinian Authority’s state-building and development objectives, while strengthening Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation.
Thank you once again. I wish you well in your deliberations.