Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Vassily Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, at the open VTC of UNSC members on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Mme. President,

At the outset, we would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved, the people and leadership of Palestine on the passing of Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the PLO Saeb Erekat. We highly appreciate his personal contribution to the search for an equitable solution to the Palestinian problem on the established international legal basis, including resolutions of the Security Counci and General Assembly of the United Nations. 

Mme. President,

We thank Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov for his briefing.

Russia sticks to the time-tested principle that a comprehensive stabilization in the Middle East is impossible without a lasting solution to the Palestinian question. We maintain constructive and friendly ties with all states of the region, that is why we think that improvement of Arab-Israeli relations is a positive development. However, we proceed from the understanding that the Arab-Israeli settlement should include as an indispensable element an equitable solution to the Palestinian problem based on the international legal framework endorsed by the United Nations, including its resolutions, the Arab peace Initiative, and the fundamental two-state principle. This framework stipulates establishment of a sovereign and territorially contiguous Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with capital in East Jerusalem, which would peacefully co-exist with Israel.

The entire set of final status issues should be resolved during direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. The international community should focus its efforts on resuming the negotiation process. President M.Abbas reiterated readiness for such dialogue under the auspices of the Quartet of International Mediators. We call upon our partners in the Quartet – the United Nations, the European Union, and the United States – to boost cooperation for this purpose. We are ready to have dialogue with key regional stakeholders. We firmly believe that single-handed action will never lead to a breakthrough. It takes consolidated efforts and the entire potential of collective diplomacy to achieve this.

We consider the restoration of contacts between the Palestinian and Israeli sides as a first step towards reinstating dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis. We welcome this move of the Palestinian leadership that is aimed at fostering efforts that should improve the dire socio-economic situation on the Palestinian territories, enhance joint response to the coronavirus pandemic, and promote cooperation in the area of security. We call upon both sides to uphold their obligations under previously achieved agreements.

In order to implement those agreements, one must abstain from any aggressive and provocative rhetoric and actions. As the Special Coordinator informed us, on 15 November the Israeli authorities opened a bid for construction of more than 1000 housings in East Jerusalem. We are concerned by this decision that runs counter to the international legal framework for the Middle Eastern settlement. Construction of a new block of settlements in Givat Hamatos area will detach East Jerusalem from Bethlehem and break the territorial contiguity of the Palestinian state, envisaged by UN resolutions.

We reconfirm our principled position that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegitimate. We call to stop the settlement activity and the policy of demolishing Palestinian property, as well as lift annexation plans from the agenda for good. At the same time, we condemn violence and missile launches against the Israeli territory. They must stop. There is also an urgent need to join efforts in order to counter the terrorist threat.

The task of restoring Palestinian unity remains very relevant. We will set forth our efforts at this track and continue to assist our Egyptian colleagues.

Robust international steps that should improve the depressing humanitarian situation in Gaza are in great demand. Another reason for concern is reduction of UNRWA financing. The activity of UNRWA has both a humanitarian and a political effect, as it contributes to stabilizing the situation on the Palestinian territories and countries of the Middle East. Russia will continue supporting the Agency, and calls on the global community to do the same.