Statement by Chargé d'Affaires of the Russian Federation Dmitry Polyanskiy at a UN Security Council briefing on the situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question
We thank Special Coordinator for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov for his report about the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. We have closely followed the statement by Executive Director of Gisha Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement Ms. Tania Hary.
To our regret, as we discuss the Middle East at the Security Council, we come to speak about deteriorating situation in the region. The calls to consolidate international efforts and settle the old and the new crises remain unheeded. Instead, we see unilateral actions that do not fit into the logic of search for compromise and collective efforts.
I mean, in the first place, the problem of Palestinian-Israeli settlement that is central for the entire region. Two days ago, the U.S. made another step to undermine the whole package of negotiated arrangements. U.S. authorities stated they no longer considered Israel’s settlement activity in the West Bank a violation of the international law. Thereby they emphasized that they merely recognized “the reality on the ground”. To us, this reality is unacceptable and illicit. To us, it is obvious that this step will escalate the already tense situation in Palestinian-Israeli settlement.
Another step of this sequence is the U.S. Administration’s decision on Jerusalem and illegitimate recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan Heights which constitutes a severe violation of the international law, in particular of UN Security Council resolution 497. In this context we reiterate that, without any doubt, Golans is a Syrian territory that Israel occupied and then illegally annexed.
Israel’s missile strikes on Syria that have intensified recently, also run counter to normalization efforts in the region. Such acts cause our utmost concern and resentment.
We reconfirm the principled position that is enshrined in Security Council resolution 2334, according to which Israel’s settlement activity at the Palestinian territory (including East Jerusalem) that has been occupied since 1967, has no legal effect, constitutes a violation of the international law, presents one of the main impediments to implementing a two-state solution, and prevents establishing a fair, reliable and all-encompassing peace in the Middle East. For us the international legal basis for Middle Eastern settlement remains impregnable, and it rests on Security Council resolutions, the “Arab Peace Initiative” and the “Madrid Principles”.
Just like our colleagues, we have concerns regarding escalation around Gaza Strip that is beset by missile launches against the territory of Israel and by retaliatory bombardments. Besides, there is a demand for active international steps that should improve the depressing humanitarian situation in Gaza.
We are convinced that today, as never before, there is a need to lead the peace process out of the dangerous deadlock. In the first place, Israel should stop its settlement activity and the policy of demolishing Palestinian property. Russia both bilaterally and in other formats will continue efforts aimed at resuming direct dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis.
It is obvious to us, just as to the majority of our colleagues, that the only way out is to link international and regional efforts under the central role of the United Nations and its Security Council. We believe the Middle Eastern Quartet of Mediators – mechanism that has been endorsed by several UNSC resolutions – remains up-to-date and demanded as never before.
Vote on the Middle Eastern package of resolutions that took place in the Fourth Committee last week clearly showed the growing support of the international community for the aforementioned settlement principles. What we also believe crucial is the support that was expressed for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Activities of the Agency have not only a humanitarian but also a political dimension; they have a stabilizing impact on the Palestinian territories and on states of the Middle East.
Israel and Palestine are of great religious importance for hundreds of thousand adherents of monotheistic religions. Achieve peace at these territories promptly – this is something that falls into interests of all Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
The lack of solution to the Palestinian problem, alongside with lasting instability in the region accumulate capacity for protests and even radicalism. Security Council resolution 598 has tasked the Secretary-General to work at this track. All of this makes the need to develop a sustainable collective security mechanism based on equal dialogue even more pressing. To this end, there is a relevant Russian initiative that is aimed at leading conflicts out of deadlock and developing confidence and control measures.