Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC debate on the situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question


We thank Special Coordinator Wennesland for the substantive briefing on the state of affairs in the Middle East in the context of the settlement process.

As we heard from Special Coordinator today, the situation in the area of Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains explosive. Israeli security forces carry on with deadly raids in the West Bank, the most recent of which resulted in two Palestinians being shot dead in southern Jenin. Against this backdrop, there are regular outbreaks of violence around the Gaza Strip that entail casualties on both sides. Over the past year, at least 224 peaceful Palestinians died at the hands of Israeli military, including 61 children. Violence against minors did not stop even during the visit of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict V.Gamba. There are also deaths among the Israelis. We reconfirm Israel’s right to security.

In parallel to this, Tel Aviv proceeds with unilateral economic sanctions and measures aimed at expanding and legalizing the settlement activity, including expropriation of Palestinian estate, demolition of housings, and construction of outposts. According to the data provided by the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem, by this moment the total of 243 illegal settlements has been erected in the West Bank.

Reports are coming in daily about damage of Palestinian property, devastation of agricultural lands, and mass arrests that happen i.a. without charge.  Over the recent year, there have been 815 cases of such detentions. Against this backdrop, active rhetoric of the new Israeli leadership about reform of Israel’s legal system that should i.a. authorize the disproportionate use of force raises concern. This sparked outrage even with Israelis themselves, as mass rallies swept through Tel Aviv.

We are convinced that such wrongful and provocative steps threaten to bury the prospects for eventual implementation of the UN-endorsed two-state formula, according to which Israel and Palestine should coexist peacefully within the borders of 1967.  


On a separate note, there is such a sensitive topic in the Middle Eastern agenda as status of Jerusalem – cradle of three monotheistic religion – and its Holy Sites. Controversies around this city remain one of the main sources of instability not only in the area of Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but in the entire Middle East. In this context, it is essential to ensure equal access of all believers to the Holy Sites and prevent changes in the status quo. We note the role of Jordan and the Royal Hashemite Family as guardians of the Holy Sites of Jerusalem.

The remaining rift between Fatah and HAMAS is a factor that complicates the Palestinian-Israeli settlement, as it weakens the negotiating positions of the Palestinian side. In this regard, we are ready to act jointly with other stakeholders, first of all our Egyptian friends, in order to facilitate recovery of inter-Palestinian unity on the PLO basis.  We note the input of Algeria in the signing of the Algiers Declaration in Palestinian National Unity.


Our position as to the Palestinian-Israeli settlement remains consistent and unchanged. We need to uphold the legitimate right of Palestinians to having an independent state in the 1967 borders with the capital in Eastern Jerusalem, which will live side by side with Israel in peace and security, as provided for by the universally recognized international legal framework. We proceed from the assumption that this is the only way to ensure Israel’s security and meet the national aspirations of Palestinians.

What’s fundamentally important is that this line is supported by the majority of states, which fact was confirmed by the UNGA vote on the Middle Eastern cluster of draft resolutions in December last year, which included a resolution renewing the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) until 2026. On our part, we attach great importance to rendering comprehensive humanitarian assistance to those in need in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as Palestinian refugees in the neighboring Arab states through UN humanitarian agencies under the lead of specialized UNRWA.  We believe it is important to continue providing financial support to the Agency so it can proceed with its work and help millions of Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East.


Once again, we would like to stress the importance of convening a ministerial meeting of the Quartet of international intermediaries for the Middle East and establishing close contacts of this mechanism with Palestinians, Israelis, and also key regional actors. As of today, the activity of the Quartet, despite the support of many states, remains frozen due to unwillingness of the United States (that seeks to “privatize” this file) to do multilateral engagement. As we know from practice and prior experience, attempts to cut such “tangled knots” unilaterally while substituting an equitable solution with an “economic truce”, are doomed to failure. Such self-initiated activity results in recurrence of armed clashes, bringing incalculable suffering to the civilian population, both Palestinians and Israelis. We call on the Secretary-General, who is part of the Quartet, to take more action in order to promote multilateral efforts of this mechanism. In general, we are profoundly disappointed by the fact that for Wetsern states, the Middle Eastern settlement is gradually moving to the rank of secondary, if not tertiary agenda items. Speakers list for this open debate proves this point. There are almost no Western states on the list, however when it comes to speaking in the Security Council on Ukraine, they are more than eager to do so. This is quite indicative given the fact that most conflict situations in the Middle East were caused precisely by steps taken by Western countries.

We are convinced that regional conflicts must not become hostages to geopolitical competition. In order to give an impetus to the Middle Eastern settlement, consolidation of external actors is needed today as never before.

We must spare no effort to achieve this, while engaging collectively with the regional states, whose role in the Middle East peace process can not be overstated.

In this regard, we remind again of the initiative of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation S.Lavrov to convene an extended meeting of the Quartet with participation of the Arab states. We are convinced that this proposal becomes increasingly relevant, especially in light of the fact that most Middle Eastern stakeholders stand for recovery of the work of the Quartet as the only UNSC-endorsed international legal mechanism to accompany the Middle Eastern settlement.

Thank you.