Statement by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, during the VTC of UN Security Council members on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
We thank Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov for the briefing.
We were pleased to learn that contacts between Palestinians and Israelis in the context of confronting COVID-19 have resumed. Israeli President Rivlin’s phone call to his Palestinian counterpart Abbas was an important step. While the focus of the ongoing cooperation is on the health crisis, there are many other areas that overlap and are under discussion now. We hope that this dialogue becomes part of the confidence building measures.
As Mr. Mladenov underscored, potential consequences of the spread of the disease in the Gaza Strip are of particular concern. As we understand, Palestinians, Israelis and Egyptians are contacting on the issue with the help of the UN. 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.
Due to the current state of affairs, many questions arise regarding the Palestinian elections. Israelis themselves have problems related to the formation of the Government.
We are going through a difficult period of time in the Middle Eastern peace process that is even more aggravated by the COVID-19. Still, our principal approach remains unchanged. Russia supports a fair solution of 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.
On March 26, Russia took part in a teleconference of special envoys to the Middle East Quartet of International Mediators. The participants held an in-depth discussion on the current lack of progress with the Palestinian-Israeli settlement and on the tasks of containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. They agreed that it was important to revitalize the work of the Quartet and to hold next teleconference soon.
At the last meetings of the Security Council we heard both from Palestinians and Israelis that they were prepared to engage in negotiations. We should hear from the parties how they see parameters of such negotiations. We reiterate the importance of restoring Palestinian national unity. As Mr. Mladenov mentioned, we held a series of consultations with Palestinian factions on that issue.
Unfortunately, reports from the ground indicate that even the Coronavirus does not change plans for the continuation of settlement activity, and demolition of Palestinian real estate. Clashes that lead to casualties do not stop. We believe it is important that the parties do not engage in provocative actions and unilateral steps, in particular at this time.