Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
We thank Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland for his briefing on the latest developments of the Middle Eastern settlement.
Our growing concern is caused by a recent escalation in the occupied Palestinian territories in light of recurring acts of violence, first of all in Jerusalem, where Christian and Muslim worshippers faced oppression and restrictions on access to Holy sites. We remind again that historical and legal status quo of Jerusalem’s Holy sites must not be violated. In this connection, we commend the stabilizing role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan that has been traditionally protecting them.
In parallel to this, the Israeli authorities use force and conduct operations in the West Bank and around Gaza. The most recent of them ended up in a tragic death of Palestinian journalist Shirin Abu Akle. We support the demand of Palestinian leadership for a thorough and objective investigation of her murder.
As we take it from Special Coordinator’s briefing, the already explosive situation is aggravated by Tel Aviv’s illegitimate unilateral steps that create irreversible trends on the ground. Last year, Israel issued permits for construction of more than 12,000 housing units by means of expanding the existing housings and erecting new ones. More than 1000 Palestinian homes were demolished. Confiscation of land lots and forceful eviction of Palestinian families continue. Olive gardens are being hacked out. The number of attacks on settlers is growing, alongside with disproportionate use of force by Israeli military. Against this backdrop, Tel Aviv’s intentions to double the number of Israelis living in the Jordan Valley and in the Syrian Golan Heights by 2026 can be viewed as de facto annexation of the major part of the occupied Palestinian territory.
In fact, the global community ignores systematic violations of the rights of Palestinians, which is a good illustration of the double standards that Western states apply to IHL provisions and issues of protection of human rights – same as what we see with regard to Donbas. Also, it is pitiful that some our Western colleagues do not shy away from raising other episodes in order to distract global attention from the sabotage of Palestinian-Israeli settlement. The American representative once again struck up an everlasting song – which is totally out of place here – that Russia is to blame for a looming global food crisis. We strongly ask you to stop misleading everyone and revoke your sanctions of choice that prevent deliveries of food – and the world will breathe a sigh of relief.
In current circumstances, we believe the number one task is ensuring lasting stabilization on the ground and recovery of political prospects for reviving the peace process on the universally recognized international legal basis with a two-state solution at its core. We believe settlement is only possible once the sides embark on direct negotiations.
In this context, it appears critical to recover Palestinian unity on the basis of the PLO platform. We welcome and support the corresponding initiatives of Egypt that seeks to establish dialogue between Palestine’s major political forces, and the plans of Algeria to convene another round of talks between Fatah and Hamas. Moscow’s proposal to host another inter-Palestinian meeting also remains on the table.
On our part, we keep engaging with Palestinians and Israelis, as well as international and regional stakeholders, who are ready for joint work, i.a. within the Middle Eastern Quartet. We underscore the importance of proper coordination among international intermediaries and regional partners that are directly interested in facilitating Middle Eastern settlement. This is why Russia came forth with an initiative to convene an extended ministerial meeting of the Quartet and key members of the Arab League.
The striving of the United States to monopolize the peace process and impose “economic peace” on Palestinians in return for accommodating their legitimate aspirations towards being an independent state are counterproductive, same as Washington reluctance to join the work of the Quartet.
Amidst the deteriorating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, we need to make sure that UNRWA is able to keep on with its effective efforts aimed at providing comprehensive humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. We call on the international donors to be more active supporting the activity of the Agency, which has remained the central international mechanism for assisting Palestinians with education, healthcare, social aspects, improving infrastructure and living conditions in refugee camps since 1949.
In this context, the decision of Western organizers to not invite Russia to a session of the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) for Palestine appears rather puzzling. Since the Committee’s inception in 1993, Russia has actively participated in its work delivering a widely recognized meaningful contribution to establishing a firm base for practical implementation of the two-state principle for Palestine and Israel.
Clearly, this position of AHLC has nothing to do with the real search for solutions to conflicts across the Middle East and North Africa. Any attempts to exclude Russia from the settlement of Palestinian-Isareli, Syrian, or any other crises in the Middle East are counterproductive. Russia’s deep-rooted historical ties with MENA region, which, unlike those of Western states, were never tarnished by colonial legacy, are strong and indissoluble. Our country will keep facilitating resolution of acute conflicts in MENA, while strengthening mutually beneficial relations with all countries of the region that constitute an integral part of a multi-polar world.