Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at an open VTC of UNSC members on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
We thank Mr. Tor Wennesland for his briefing.
Special Coordinator briefed us on the progress of UNSC resolution 2334. In this context, we reiterate the principal position of this document, according to which construction of Israeli settlements on the Palestinian territory that has been under occupation since 1967 (including East Jerusalem) constitutes a violation of the international law and one of the main obstacles that impedes settlement based on a two-state solution. We are gravely concerned by the fact that the pace of issuing construction permits and expansion of settlements does not decline. Same can be said about the scope of demolitions, expropriation of the Palestinian property, and evictions. We call on the Israeli authorities to abandon unilateral steps that create irreversible developments on the ground.
We also stress the need to assist Palestinians in responding to acute humanitarian and socio-economic problems on the occupied territories and in Gaza, especially amidst the coronavirus. We note the importance of Palestinians and Israelis interacting with each other in the interests of countering the pandemic, i.a. in the context of vaccination. We attach great importance to continuation of the work of UNRWA that renders support to Palestinians both on the occupied territories and in the neighboring Arab states. We call to galvanize international support for the Agency’s activities.
Russia consistently supports the two-state principle that envisages the creation of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital that should rest upon the international legal basis, including UN resolutions, and the Arab Peace Initiative. There is no alternative to the direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis on all parameters of the final settlement, including the problem of refugees, borders, water, the status of Jerusalem. At the same time, all Israel’s security concerns must be taken onboard.
In conjunction with our Egyptian friends, we will continue to help Palestinians restore unity based on the platform of the Palestine Liberation Organization. We proceed from the understanding that pending Palestinian elections also provide an opportunity to overcome controversies and strengthen power institutions.
On our part, we take steps to support collective efforts aimed at achieving equitable peace in the region, maintain contacts with the key regional and international stakeholders. As per the previous agreement achieved by the members of the Quartet of international mediators, we work to put its meetings on a regular basis. Therefore, we convened another VTC on 23 March, where we focused on the current situation in the region, the progress of preparations for the Palestinian elections, the situation in the West Bank and in Gaza. We stressed the need to resume direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in order to unlock prospects for a peace process. The Russian side put forward a proposal to look into organizing a ministerial meeting of the Quartet.
We are committed to continue discussions with the interested sides to consider convening a meeting of the Quartet plus Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, plus Palestinians and Israelis, with possible inclusion of Saudi Arabia as the author of the Arab Peace Initiative. Such a meeting could provide a review of the current state of affairs and outline key tracks for joint work – to get over the standstill in the settlement process. We hope this idea will enjoy broad support, and encourage all the interested sides to share their comments and proposals in order to ensure thorough preparatory work for the meeting.