Statement by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, during the VTC of Security Council Member-States on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
We thank Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov for the briefing.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia supports the timely call of the UN Secretary-General to immediately stop hostilities, secure a ceasefire, and introduce a humanitarian pause in conflict areas. It has particular relevance for the longest-running crisis in the Middle East, the solution to which is quintessential for the region - the Palestinian question.
We welcome ongoing contacts between Palestinians and Israelis to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The focus is on cooperation in the field of healthcare, but other issues are being discussed too. We hope that these contacts become part of confidence-building measures in terms of a broader dialogue between the parties.
We echo others’ concern about potential consequences of the spread of the disease in the Gaza Strip. We note deliveries of medical equipment by the WHO and UNRWA. However, given the humanitarian situation in Gaza, these efforts should be increased and multiplied. The work of UNRWA and its support by the international community becomes even more important than ever. Of course, the safety of UNRWA staff is a priority.
We are going through a difficult period of time in the Middle East peace process that is even more aggravated by the COVID-19. Still, our principal approach remains unchanged. Russia supports a just and fair solution to the Palestinian question on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid Principles and the Arab Peace Initiative, which provide basis for creation of an independent, sovereign, territorially contiguous Palestinian state within 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Last month we took part in a teleconference of special envoys to the Middle East Quartet of International Mediators and discussed current challenges to the Middle East peace process. It was agreed that it is important to revitalize the Quartet and to continue contacts. At the same time, we are ready to consider other formats of interaction, including through participation of regional countries and League of Arab States.
The Palestinian side has repeatedly stated that it is ready to resume negotiations on final status issues. The Israeli representatives spoke of the same thing. Consultations with both parties should be continued so that they determine the parameters of these negotiations and proceed with them as soon as possible.
Regrettably reports indicate that settlement activities and demolition of Palestinian property continue. Deadly clashes do not stop. We took note of understanding reached between Israeli political leaders on overcoming the domestic political crisis. However, we note with concern, according to incoming reports, plans for unilateral implementation of the so-called “deal of the century” with regard to the annexation of Palestinian territories. In this regard, we consider it critical, in order to preserve the peace process, to avoid any provocative actions or unilateral steps.
The task of achieving inter-Palestinian unity remains extremely urgent. Russia is making efforts to bring the Palestinian ranks together. We highly appreciate the role of our Egyptian friends in this regard.