Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
We thank Tor Wennesland for his briefing on the progress of implementation of UNSC resolution 2334.
The escalation in the area of Palestinian-Israeli conflict in August this year demonstrated once again that the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories will remain highly explosive until the sides reach mutually acceptable compromises on all issues pertaining to the final status on the basis of the internationally recognized legal framework for Middle Eastern settlement.
On 5-7 August, Israel Defense Forces conducted another military operation in Gaza. As reported by the UN, the bombardments destroyed or seriously damaged hundreds of residential buildings and infrastructure facilities and killed at least 26 civilians, including 17 children.
Such outbreaks of violence in Gaza and the West Bank are alarmingly regular. We believe such recurrence of tension has to do with stagnation of the peace process and continuing unilateral steps by Israel that create “facts on the ground”, as well as its de facto carte blanche to use force against Palestinians.
Mass arbitrary detentions of Palestinians take place on a daily basis – more than 700 inmates are held in Israeli prisons without charge. Provocative violations of the status of Holy Sites of Jerusalem by Israel’s ultraorthodox groups and forceful suppression of Palestinian demonstrations continue – more than 130 people have died in such clashed since the start of this year. We are concerned about reported possible provocations at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the coming fall, which will mark three key Jewish holidays, as well as a new cycle of the Israeli election campaign. The legal field is also shrinking rapidly – there are violations of media freedom up to killings of reporters, and activities of rights advocates are subjected to tough limitations.
In light of the information about the implementation of UNSC resolution 2334 that the Special Coordinator shared today, we reconfirm the principled position which is stipulated in this UN document, according to which construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian territories that have been occupied since 1967, including Eastern Jerusalem, constitutes a violation of the international law and one of the major impediments for settlement on the basis of the two-state principle.
We are particularly concerned by Israel “creating irreversible facts on the ground”, meaning illegal settlement activity, forced eviction of Palestinians, demolition of houses, and expropriation of property. In August alone, more than 100 people including 50 children were dishoused.
Israel's arbitrary wrongful actions go beyond the West Bank and Gaza Strip, affecting the neighboring Arab countries, whose sovereignty was violated on numerous occasions. I mean attacks against the territory of Syria and Lebanon in the first place. We are opposed to such methods of protecting national security that pose threats to other states and create risks of escalation in the region.
The international community needs to play a constructive role both in promoting Palestinian-Israeli settlement and addressing urgent humanitarian and socio-economic problems in the occupied territories, first of all in Gaza. We attach great significance to continuation of the effective work of UNRWA that renders support to Palestinians both in the occupied territories and in the neighboring Arab states.
We assume that lasting stabilization is not possible without recovery of the “political horizon”, revitalization of the peace process on the internationally recognized legal basis with the two-state solution (which we unfailingly support) at its core. There is no alternative to direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis on all parameters of the final settlement.
We closely followed statements made by the Palestinian and Israeli leadership at the general debate of the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly. We have noted that both sides confirmed their readiness to progress towards settlement based on the two-state solution. We support this stance given the understanding that the Palestinian question can only be resolved only once all parameters of the corresponding legal framework are duly observed. We are ready to provide the required assistance in order to achieve these goals, i.a. in collective formats in cooperation with regional stakeholders.
In this regard, steps made by Washington are counter-productive, as they in fact block the activities of the Quartet of international intermediaries for the Middle East and seek to force Palestinians into an “economic truce” instead of accommodating their legitimate aspirations for a sovereign state.