(Continued) The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question - Security Council, 9099th meeting
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(Continued) The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question - Security Council, 9099th meeting.
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Addressing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians as they arise cannot replace efforts to resolve core issues driving the conflict, a senior United Nations official for the region told the Security Council today, as Council members stressed the need to implement a two-State solution while other delegates criticized the organ’s inability to meaningfully resolve a crisis that has persisted for over 70 years.

Lynn Hastings, Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Council that — while the specifics of the conflict fluctuate — “the structural reality has not changed”.  Concerning levels of violence against civilians, illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and continuing demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures have resulted in a “growing sense of hopelessness among many Palestinians who see their prospects for statehood, sovereignty and a peaceful future slipping away”.  She pointed out that many Israelis “also understand the perils of continuing along the current path”.

She went on to note that soaring commodity prices continue to negatively impact Palestinian lives across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, and that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) requires an additional $72 million by September to meet food-assistance needs for 1.1 million Palestinian refugees.  While mounting tensions must be dealt with, there is no substitute for a legitimate political process that will resolve the core issues driving the conflict.  “If left unaddressed,” she added, “the factors contributing to this corrosive situation will only deteriorate further”.

The observer for the State of Palestine next addressed the Council, stressing that “we know what the future will look like if nothing is done differently”.  When an issue occurs, the Palestinian will be deemed guilty and the Israeli will be deemed innocent in Israeli courts, and the world — too accustomed to this pattern of tragedy and injustice — will express dismay and then look away.  At a time when the international community rightfully proclaims that Palestinians are entitled to equal freedom, security and prosperity, Israel persists in denying all three, he said, asking:  “What will this Security Council and the broader international community do about it?”

The representative of Israel then took the floor to point out that “sadly, nothing noteworthy has been achieved as a result of these debates — nothing for decades”.  Highlighting the primary obstacles to peace, he spotlighted the Palestinians’ absurd prerequisite that Israel accept all their radical demands, even before sitting at the table.  To move towards a better future, he said that the starting point should be analysing best practices.  Recalling United States President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the region, he noted that the evolution of a big part of the Middle East from conflict to coexistence was openly on display for the world to see.

In the ensuing debate, many Council members condemned settler-related and other violence, stressing the need to ensure accountability and end unilateral measures that undermine the viability of a future Palestinian State.  Members also highlighted the need to establish a direct political dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.  Others, expressing support for UNRWA, called for predictable funding for humanitarian aid.

The representative of the United States, updating the Council on President Biden’s recent visit to Israel and the West Bank, said that normalization agreements between countries in the region are important to advance peace between Israel and Palestine and address the needs of the Palestinian people.  However, they are not a substitute for a negotiated two-State solution.  She added that the United States fully supports UNRWA’s work, recently providing $201 million for critical services.

The speaker for the United Arab Emirates similarly highlighted his country’s $25 million donation to the Al-Makassed Hospital — the backbone of the Palestinian health system — and added that recent diplomatic initiatives reflect a genuine regional effort to achieve peace for all peoples.  This can be seen, he pointed out, in the recent Jeddah Security and Development Summit and the I2U2 Summit, which involved India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

China’s representative, pointing out that the question of Palestine has dragged on for more than 70 years, stressed that “piecemeal crisis management is no substitute for a comprehensive, impartial solution”.  The security of Israel and Palestine are interdependent and indivisible, and he emphasized that “seeking absolute security by using one’s advantageous position can only lead to a greater security dilemma”.  He called on those countries with influence over Israel and Palestine to play their due role in promoting the resumption of peace talks.

When the floor was opened to the wider United Nations membership, Algeria’s representative joined others in stating that the Council has, for years, adopted an approach that has led to the management of conflicts, rather than finding a necessary solution that would end the occupation and provide Palestinians with an avenue for pursuing Statehood.  The occupation persists in Israel’s settlement policies and systemic actions that impose the status quo and expose the region to conflict, he emphasized.

Cuba’s representative concurred, noting that — despite repeated calls by many international bodies — the Council has not adopted measures to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and military aggression.  The United States has repeatedly blocked Council action and prevented the organ from fulfilling its responsibility under the Charter, hampering broad, fair and lasting solutions to the conflict and guaranteeing Israeli impunity.

On that point, the delegate from Malaysia noted that, as Israel practices extrajudicial killings, torture and killing of children, collective punishment, settlement expansion and evictions, its systematic oppression is tantamount to the crimes of Apartheid.  It is high time for accountability, he stressed, calling for Member States to urgently apply Council resolutions to end Israel’s occupation and to work towards a peaceful solution to the conflict.

South Africa’s representative also pointed out that Israel’s imposition of an Apartheid system debilitates any prospect of establishing an independent Palestinian State.  Moreover, the Council’s inability to act against Israel — despite its willingness to act decisively on other issues — illustrates the persistent double standards and inconsistency in its work.

The speaker for Lebanon, stating that daily Palestinian casualties are grim proof that the much-promised peace is still a pipe dream, underscored that the key to peace in the region is by ending the occupation.  Recalling President Biden’s recent statement that the “ground is not ripe” for new attempts to reach peace, she emphasized that “the ripeness theory” allows for unilateral measures and facts on the ground to end the Palestinians dream of a State of their own.

Japan’s delegate, while also expressing concern over the violence in Israel and the West Bank, voiced hope that evolving regional partnerships in the Middle East will ease tensions and foster regional stability.  In this regard, he spotlighted the Negev Forum — involving Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and the United States — along with the work of Japan, Egypt and Jordan to discuss regional peace and prosperity.

Also speaking were the representatives of Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Russian Federation, Albania, Ghana, Gabon, Kenya, India, Norway, Mexico, Brazil, Iran, Morocco, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Türkiye, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Azerbaijan (speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement), Argentina and the Republic of Korea.

A representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, also spoke, as did the Permanent Observers for the Holy See, the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The Vice Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People also made a statement.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m., was suspended at 1:20 p.m., resumed at 3:03 p.m. and ended at 5:00 p.m.