Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin at an open VTC of UNSC members on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Mr. President,

Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Ladies and gentlemen,

We thank the Chinese delegation for convening today's meeting of the Security Council in order to consider the grave crisis in Palestinian-Israeli relations. The danger that it poses extends far beyond the borders of the region.

The rapid deterioration of the situation in the zone of conflict, which has resulted in armed confrontation and numerous human casualties, is a source of deep concern in Moscow. We express our sincere condolences to the families of those killed and injured. We strongly condemn the use of force and violence against civilians in both Israel and Palestine.

It is necessary to immediately end the armed confrontation, which has already led to the death and injury of dozens of people, including women and children. The efforts of Russia's leadership and of its diplomacy are aimed at achieving that goal. Practical steps to end the conflict were the subject of a targeted discussion during Secretary-General Guterres's visit to Moscow, as well as during numerous ongoing high level contacts with regional and international partners.

This new escalation of the situation resulted from a combination of factors, the main one being the absence of a direct negotiation process. It is through such negotiations that Palestinians and Israelis are meant to work out solutions to all fundamental final status issues. In the meantime, it is necessary to strictly respect the status quo of the holy sites, ensure the rights and freedom of worshippers to engage in religious observances in East Jerusalem, in the cradle of three monotheistic religions, and to take into account the highly sensitive nature of this problem. In that regard, we consider the attempts to change the geographical, demographic and historical character and status of East Jerusalem to be null and void.

This new cycle of the crisis proves that the normalization of Israel's relations with Arab states, as beneficial as it may be, cannot lead to a comprehensive stabilization of the situation in the Middle East, if the Palestinian-Israeli question is ignored.

The priority now is to cease fire and to stop the bloodshed. We call on the parties to comply with the norms of international humanitarian law, prevent harm to the civilian population and to infrastructure used by journalists and the mass media. The issue of protecting medical personnel requires particular attention.

We underscore that there's no alternative to a political settlement of existing disputes. The parties must recognize their responsibility for the fate of millions of Israelis and Palestinians and for preserving domestic national unity. Appropriate conditions must be established as soon as possible for relaunching a peaceful Palestinian-Israeli dialogue on the basis of well-known decisions of the Security Council and the General Assembly and the principle of two states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace and security.

This requires a rejection of any unilateral steps, including settlement activity, destruction of Palestinian housings, eviction of the Arab population from their ancestral home, provocations and incitement to violence. The practice of creating irreversible developments on the ground that might prejudge a final solution must stop. Russia strongly reaffirms its commitment to the above mentioned international legal framework that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for their own independent state, and Israel's legitimate interests in ensuring its security.

In the interests of deescalating the situation and instilling an atmosphere of trust, we believe it is important to urgently hold a meeting of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators at the ministerial level. In order to ensure coordination between the Quartet and key regional players, we also propose convening a ministerial meeting in an extended format with the involvement of the leading states of the region. Our proposal to arrange contacts between the heads of Israel and Palestine in Moscow remains in force.

Another integral component of the Palestinian Israeli settlement process is overcoming the split in the Palestinian ranks.The Russian Federation, in cooperation with the leadership of Egypt and other interested stakeholders, will continue to provide assistance to Palestinian political forces in order to restore national unity on the basis of the Palestine Liberation Organization platform.

Moscow believes that it is important for the UN Security Council to articulate a concerted response to the current severe crisis. There is a basis for this, because all members of the Security Council, as we have seen today, are advocating in favor of ending the forceful confrontation. They are united regarding the need to strictly observe the international humanitarian law, as well as the inadmissibility of inflicting harm on civilians. All Security Council members are in favor of relaunching the political process between Palestinians and Israelis and achieving a two-state solution. We also believe that a direct dialogue between the parties should be carried out with the active assistance of the international Quartet of mediators as the only internationally recognized mechanism for supporting the Palestinian-Israeli settlement.

Thank you.