3) The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question - Security Council, 8869th meeting.
Acting unanimously today, the Security Council renewed for another year its authorization for Member States to inspect vessels outside of Libya’s territorial waters, when there are reasonable grounds to believe they are participating in acts of migrant smuggling and human trafficking.
By the terms of resolution 2598 (2021)(to be issued as document S/RES/2598(2021)), which was adopted under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the 15‑member Council extended several measures initially set out in resolution 2240 (2015) for a further period of 12 months, including its authorization for Member States to seize vessels confirmed as being used for smuggling migrants or trafficking in human beings from Libya.
Members condemned all acts of migrant smuggling and human trafficking into, through and from the Libyan territory and off the coast of Libya, which undermine further the process of stabilizing Libya and endangers the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. They expressed their intention to continue to review the situation and consider, as appropriate, renewing the authority provided in the present resolution for additional periods.
In addition, the Council requested the Secretary‑General to provide a report on the implementation of today’s resolution in 11 months’ time.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 10:09 a.m.
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International efforts to establish a political horizon that can end the occupation of Palestinian territory and achieve a two-State solution must be re-energized, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process said today, as Security Council members took stock of developments following the formation of a new Government in Israel in June.
Tor Wennesland, presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on implementation of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), which called on Israel to cease all settlement activity in Palestinian lands, said recent engagement between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials ‑ including a meeting in August between Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ‑ is encouraging.
However, efforts must continue to address the ever-worrying situation on the ground, including reversing negative trends in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and stabilizing the fragile situation in Gaza, he told the Council in a briefing delivered via video-teleconference.
“I once again urge Israelis, Palestinians, regional States and the broader international community to take practical steps that will enable the parties to re-engage on the path to peace,” he said, adding that he will continue to engage with the Middle East Quartet, key regional partners and Israeli and Palestinian leaders in that regard.
He reported that during the 12 June to 27 September period covered in the Secretary-General’s report, no new Israeli settlement housing plans were advanced or approved. However, the seizure and demolition of Palestinian-owned structures continued in the West Bank, while daily violence left 24 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier dead.
He welcomed steps by the new Government to ease the economic pressure on the Palestinian Authority and encouraged their expansion. He also urged the two parties to act urgently to stabilize the Palestinian economy and strengthen Palestinian institutions. He added that the United Nations firmly supports Egyptian-led efforts aimed at Palestinian reconciliation.
Two members of civil society also briefed the Council, describing the situation on the ground and calling for a more inclusive peace process.
Mai Farsakh, Planning Manager of the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, described some of the effects of Israel’s disregard for international law on those suffering from settlement expansion. She recalled that, since the adoption of resolution 2334 (2016), approximately 60,000 additional settlers took up occupancy in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
Further plans have since been announced this year, involving 9,000 housing units in Atarot settlement south of Ramallah, among others, she said. More threatening still are plans to retroactively authorize illegal outposts situated on Palestinian private land by declaring the latter “State land”. Meanwhile, settlers ‑ with either the active or tacit support of the Israeli army ‑ are employing violence to maintain settlements and outposts on Palestinian lands, she said.
Meredith Rothbart, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Amal-Tikva, said it is a political reality that negotiations at the highest diplomatic levels will not result in substantive peace right now. The Oslo Accords failed because the agreement came from a secret process between elite leaders, with no involvement from women, religious leaders or representatives of those wishing to disrupt the process with violence. She emphasized that civil society peacebuilding not only works but is a precondition for a negotiated end to an intractable conflict.
Having passed resolution after resolution, the Council must consider investing in a social peace, she said, adding that it was no coincidence that she was invited to speak by Ireland, Council President for September, as the Irish know the power of civil society peacebuilding first-hand. “First break the intractable nature of the conflict down into manageable parts,” she advised, then “tackle each of those parts one by one and build a popular belief that peace is, in fact, possible”.
In the ensuing debate, Council members once again reiterated their support for the two-State solution and called on Israel to comply with its obligations under international law, including by halting settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. They also expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and called on Hamas not to impede aid deliveries.
Tunisia’s representative, urging Israel as the occupying Power to comply with Council resolutions, said: “We cannot help but wonder when we will see international action to break the stalemate in the peace process and to facilitate the resumption of negotiations.” He voiced his support for a Middle East peace conference under the auspices of the Quartet and stressed the importance of unfettered humanitarian deliveries in Gaza.
The United States’ representative said that although present circumstances are difficult and concerning, steps can be taken to improve the lives of the Israeli and Palestinian people while also preserving the possibility of a negotiated two-State solution for “when the time is ripe”. He also emphasized that his country remains committed to widening the circle of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours.
The Russian Federation’s representative said that during the General Assembly’s general debate, which concluded on 27 September, nearly every world leader who addressed the Palestinian issue spoke in favour of a two-State solution. Urgent humanitarian aid must reach all those in need and the Palestinian Authority should receive assistance in tackling the lingering socioeconomic and humanitarian challenges facing the population, including the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
France’s representative said the encouraging resumption of contact between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority should be followed by confidence-building measures. However, such steps can only be effective if they are part of a political process. The need to create that process is more urgent than ever, he stressed.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ representative urged the international community ‑ and the Council and Quartet in particular ‑ “to shoulder their responsibility in a manner that has a direct impact on the resolution of this tragic occupation”. Freedom and justice for the Palestinian people can only be achieved through a lasting two-State solution that allows for the peaceful existence of the State of Palestine based on pre-1967 borders, she said.
Also speaking today were representatives of India, Mexico, China, Norway, Kenya, Estonia, United Kingdom, Viet Nam, Niger and Ireland.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 12:03 p.m.