Statement by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, on behalf of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov, at the open VTC of UNSC members on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
I would like to begin by joining others in expressing condolences to Ambassador Djani, Minister Marsudi and Indonesian people over the tragic loss of an Indonesian peacekeeper.
We welcome high-level representatives participating in todays’ Security Council VTC on the situation in the Middle East. We thank the Secretary-General, Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov, and Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Ahmed Aboul Gheit for their briefings.
Now I have the honor to read a statement of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov, who could not be present at this meeting in person, because, as you know, today we have celebrations related to the 75th anniversary of the ending of the Great Patriotic War, and now he is personally participating in these events.
In this challenging time as the world struggles to find ways to counter and overcome the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic the international community should not forget about a problem that despite decades of efforts is still awaiting its just solution. Palestinian-Israeli settlement is the key to resolving many other problems in the Middle East and to establishing a just, sustainable, comprehensive, and lasting peace in this region. The Palestinian question which is almost the same age as the United Nations requires our special and urgent attention.
We are at a doorstep, in fact just a few days away from a decision that could undermine efforts to achieve a just and sustainable Middle East settlement. Starting July 1, the process of annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank of the Jordan River may be launched by the Israeli parliament. This is perhaps one of the most serious challenges for the Palestinian cause and for the whole region.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a member of the Quartet of international mediators Russia has always stood and stands against unilateral actions or plans that, as history has shown, are not capable of bringing peace to the Middle East and prejudge final settlement. This understanding is shared by the vast majority of the international community.
Implementation of the aforementioned unilateral plans may erase prospects of the two-state solution. And we see no alternative to the two-state solution. We see no alternative to the two states – Palestine and Israel – coexisting in peace and security. But the issue of statehood is not the sole one. Other aspects of the final status - Jerusalem, refugees, borders, water, settlements - are also pending, but annexation may permanently block the path to their solution and to direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis.
The implementation of plans for the annexation will entail negative and even dangerous consequences for the entire Middle East region. It will directly affect the neighbors of Israel and Palestine - Syria, Lebanon, Jordan. It will affect the destiny of Palestinian refugees around the world.
Given the significance of Jerusalem for the three world monotheistic religions, the entire Muslim Ummah, as well as millions of other believers will be involved in the problem. Irreparable damage will be caused to the prospects of normalizing relations between regional states.
Enumerating problems that we encounter is not enough. It is necessary to anticipate, forestall and solve them. Today, as never before, international cooperation and joint steps are required to advance the Middle East peace process. As an active member of the Quartet Russia stands ready to make every effort to launch direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in the interests of achieving a settlement on an internationally recognized basis - UN resolutions, Madrid principles, the Arab Peace Initiative - which provides for the creation of an independent, sovereign, and territorially contiguous Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. We are also ready for a dialogue in other formats with key regional players and for their involvement in the efforts of the Quartet. In this regard we are in constant contact with Middle East countries and the League of Arab States.
The task of restoring Palestinian unity on the PLO platform is extremely urgent. On our part, we continue contacts with Palestinian representatives and support the efforts of our Egyptian friends in this regard.
Cessation of aggressive rhetoric, settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories, destruction of Palestinian property, armed clashes, and prevention of terrorist actions are important factors for creating an atmosphere of trust in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.
On June 23 Jordan and Sweden hosted international video conference in support of UNRWA. We are grateful to the organizers for their initiative. The number of participants and statements made once again confirmed the relevance of the Agency and its stabilizing role.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the need to abandon the annexation steps and launch the Palestinian-Israeli negotiation process as soon as possible in order to achieve a just and sustainable Middle East settlement and peace in the region.”
I thank you.