This week marks 50 years since the 1967 Six-Day War, which resulted in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan. This occupation has resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians as well as Syrians. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres has stated: “The occupation has shaped the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. It has fuelled recurring cycles of violence and retribution. Its perpetuation is sending an unmistakable message to generations of Palestinians that their dream of statehood is destined to remain just that, a dream; and to Israelis that their desire for peace, security and regional recognition remains unattainable.”
The international community remains clear in its stance on the occupation and the need for a two-state solution. The UN Security Council has declared that Israel must leave the territory occupied in 1967, and that settlements in occupied territory constitute a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution. The EU has emphasized that the only way to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is through an agreement on a two-state solution that ends the occupation which began in 1967.
Sweden’s long-standing engagement on the Middle East Peace Process is based on international law. An independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian state, living side by side with Israel in peace and security, and with Jerusalem as capital of both states, is needed for a sustainable two-state solution. This, and the aim of making the parties less unequal, was the main reasons why Sweden decided to recognise the State of Palestine in 2014. But we also wanted to give hope particularly to the young Palestinians, hope that a solution is not a fading vision but a reality that can be reached. As a member of the EU and currently also of the UN Security Council, we are engaging to make sure the international community fulfils its crucial role and implements the UNSC resolutions. Sweden is also working with civil society in both Palestine and Israel on the crucial role of civil society in the two-state solution and in a resumed peace process. For sustainable peace, inclusiveness is key, and civil society, women and youth must be involved.
The 50 year mark also reminds us of the responsibilities of the international community and that it should accompany the parties to solve the conflict and reach a final status solution. Ending the occupation through meaningful negotiations is the only way forward. And, it is a matter of great urgency.
Published 10 June 2017 · Updated 10 June 2017