Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

We thank Mr. Mladenov for his informative briefing on events in the Middle East and the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. Today, as violent conflicts — in Syria, Yemen and Libya — have continued to break out in the Middle East and North Africa, the lack of progress in resolving the Palestinian issue is seriously worrying.

We have always said that the existing status quo is not viable. It only reinforces the negative trends that render the prospect of achieving peace in the heart of the Middle East ever more distant. But today what we are seeing is not even the status quo. As Mr. Mladenov rightly noted, we are witnessing a dangerous deterioration in the situation.

As a result, and as the regular report of the Special Coordinator confirms, the parties are intensifying their unilateral activity, which only exacerbates the existing problems. Israel’s settlement activity is picking up speed. The inflammatory rhetoric continues on both sides. Reports of violent incidents are more and more frequent. We urge both Palestinians and Israelis to refrain from acts of aggression and we firmly condemn terrorist attacks. We emphasize the unacceptability of any indiscriminate use of force and of purposeful attacks on civilian targets.

The only way out of the situation is by relaunching the political process with a view to resuming direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations as soon as possible on a generally accepted international legal basis, which includes the relevant Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles, the Arab Peace Initiative and the road map of the Quartet of mediators for a settlement in the Middle East. Only the implementation of the formula for a two-State solution, whereby the two States of Palestine and Israel coexist in peace and security, will enable the crisis to be overcome and create the conditions necessary for sustainable progress towards a durable peace.

We should point out that an overwhelming majority of Member States will not accept attempts to revise that basis for a Middle East settlement. That was confirmed once again during the vote in the General Assembly in December (see A/73/PV.47). We believe firmly that any actions and proposals that do not result from Palestinian-Israeli negotiations are doomed to failure. Nor will it be possible to resolve the so-called final status issues for the Palestinians and Israelis themselves, just as it has not been possible to achieve a lasting stabilization of the Middle East without a just and long-term resolution of the Palestinian question.

Russia will continue taking steps to restore positive momentum to the Palestinian-Israeli dossier. Our proposal for providing a platform in Russia for a personal meeting between the Palestinian and Israeli leaders is still on the table. We are certain that the Quartet still has its potential as the only mediation format approved by Security Council resolutions. We support reactivating it in its regular and close cooperation with the League of Arab States and all regional and world stakeholders who can contribute to overcoming the dangerous stalemate in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.

We will continue our efforts to help reunify the Palestinians. In the past few weeks the leadership of the Russian Foreign Ministry has conducted a series of intensive contacts with representatives of the various Palestinian factions. We hope that the Palestinians will be able to achieve a new rapprochement among themselves in order to put an end to the schism and reunite the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We have noted and appreciate the efforts of Cairo and Amman in that regard. We cannot ignore the dedicated efforts of humanitarian personnel in Palestine.

We note the important work being done by the United Nations, particularly the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in the occupied Palestinian territories and in refugee camps. Russia is also helping our Palestinian friends by making contributions both to the UNRWA budget and on a bilateral basis. We cannot permit a situation in which Palestinians find themselves in a position where they basically have nothing to lose. That fuels radicalism and is capable of blowing up the situation in the Palestinian territories and far beyond their borders. 

We already have quite enough radicalism in the Middle East. If we are to combat that threat, we especially need the coordinated efforts of the entire international community on a daily basis. Once again, in accordance with the position that Russia’s representatives have repeatedly expressed, including at the Security Council meeting held on 25 June last year that comprehensively reviewed the situation in the Middle East and North Africa (see S/PV.8293), we call for genuinely collective measures for integrated efforts to improve the situation in the region. It is essential to unite our efforts on the Palestinian-Israeli question, as well as in other areas, including Syria, Yemen and Libya. It is important not to cut back our support to the authorities in Iraq in their efforts to further stabilize their situation.

The violations of Syria’s sovereignty must end and we must all engage in the collective work of achieving a political settlement and reintegrating Syria into the Arab family. We have to support that process, not create obstacles to it from outside. We want to once again draw attention to our concept for developing confidence-building measures in the Persian Gulf, which is aimed at creating a region-wide security architecture. Today in this Chamber we heard some delegations assert that the upcoming ministerial meeting in Warsaw has no specific national aspects. While I would very much like to believe that, I have to ask why Iran, one of the biggest and most important countries of the region, was not invited to it.

Attempts to cobble together military and political alliances in the region, holding various conferences designed to paint a one-sided, simplistic picture of the problems in the Middle East, which are apparently all connected to Iran and Iran alone, are counterproductive and merely render the prospect of establishing a genuine, inclusive and comprehensive security architecture in the region ever more distant, just as there can be no truly inclusive and comprehensive regional security architecture without a just solution to the Palestinian question.

Ultimately, security is the fundamental and natural policy priority for every State in the region. We believe that devising rules of conduct that are acceptable to all can only be done within the framework of a negotiation process, perhaps one similar to Helsinki, as SecretaryGeneral Guterres has said more than once. We fully support his efforts to develop that initiative.