Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at the UN Security Council Meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
We thank Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo for her briefing on the situation at the occupied Palestinian territories. We also thank briefers from EcoPeace Middle East.
It is with regret that we state that the Middle East is still living through a turbulent time. The region is tormented by numerous crises – the old and the new ones. One of the most serious issues is still the terrorist threat. Its scope shows that it is absolutely necessary to consolidate efforts of the international community in order to build a counter-terrorist front that would be as broad as possible. Russia has repeatedly called to do this.
Palestinian-Israeli settlement stands at the core of the Middle East instability. Some precarious trends have recently emerged on this track – the practice of taking unilateral steps and revising the previously negotiated agreements is expanding. For us, the legal base for the Middle East settlement remains impregnable and contains UNSC resolutions, “Arab Peace Initiative” and “Madrid Principles”.
However, the point of no return has not been passed yet. The report by the Middle East Quartet of international mediators dated 2016 cites steps that should be taken in order to restore trust between the sides and resume sustainable political process.
First of all, the Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank should be stopped, as well as the policy of demolishing the Palestinian property. Violence and terrorist undertakings should be put an end to. Both Palestinians and Israelis should abstain from aggressive and provocative rhetoric. This is the prospective from which we view the reported plans to annex settlements in the West Bank.
We are firmly convinced that no breakthrough can be achieved when acting alone. The history of the Middle East has proven this many times. The “Quartet” and its functions have been endorsed by more than one resolution of the UNSC. We believe this mechanism to be up-to-date and demanded as never before. We stand ready to activate the political dimension of its work.
Russia will go on assisting in the development of a positive agenda for the Middle East settlement, including the enhancement of coordination with the regionals. On April 16-17 Moscow hosted a regular session of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum that reiterated that we are on the same page regarding achievement of sustainable solutions to the crises in the Middle East.
Our proposal to convene a summit of leaders of Palestine and Israel remains on the table. We remind that the leader of Palestine has repeatedly confirmed his readiness to participate.
It is vital not to abandon energetic action to restore unity in the Palestinian ranks. A regular inter-Palestinian Meeting that was held in February in Moscow was very much useful, specifically in the context of efforts taken by the regional stakeholders, in particular Egypt and Jordan.
What is in high demand is active international steps to improve the discouraging humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Any assistance to Gaza should be coordinated with the legitimate authorities headed by President M.Abbas and be part of a broader task to restore the Palestinian unity. This is the logic that we pursued when recently we delivered 2 tons of flour to Palestinians in Gaza and in the West Bank.
We will continue to assist the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The UNRWA has not only a humanitarian but a political dimension as well, because it produces a stabilizing impact on the Palestinian territories, and Middle Eastern States.
We need to promptly galvanize collective diplomacy in order not to fail the efforts that the international community has been taking to create conditions that would be favorable for the implementation of the only viable two-state solution to result from direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. We believe sending a UNSC mission to the Middle East would let us consolidate our unity and enhance cooperation with the sides.
We call upon our colleagues in the Council to think of creative approaches that would let us reset our work on the Middle East settlement. Nevertheless, all ideas should account for the endorsed principles of settlement, including the Arab Peace Initiative that has been agreed on by the leaders of Arab States and that endorses the vital principle “land for peace”. In this context we would like to state that, undoubtedly, Golan Heights are a Syrian territory that was occupied by Israel after the 1967 war and illegally annexed 14 years thereafter.
The lack of stability in the Middle East requires unifying steps from the responsible members of the international community. However, the logic of our action should not encourage outmoded bloc thinking, though this is precisely how many understood the event to have taken place in Warsaw. Our action should aim to establish a platform for dialogue that would let us search for solutions to the security problems in the Middle East in a non-confrontational manner.
The Secretary-General has been tasked to work on this track according to UNSC resolution 598. The regionals were interested in this. This was proven by the Parliamentary Conference of Iraq’s neighbor-States that Baghdad has hosted recently. We believe the Russian concept of Security Measures in the Persian Gulf can become a good basis for the eventual regional architecture.
Sanation of relations between the States of the Middle East and Greater Middle East would give an impetus to the activities aimed at terminating most acute conflicts. The concept of political and diplomatic settlement should dominate all efforts made in this realm. Stakes at settlement by force and encouragement of action by illegal armed formations to achieve specific geopolitical goals should become a thing of the past.
We stand ready for constructive cooperation with our partners on every item of the Middle East agenda. We are convinced we need to improve the way and scope of how we coordinate our action, develop consolidated approaches, set forth unifying steps. The analyses confirms that work on this track is in high demand.