UN Security Council Debate on the Middle East
News23 April 2020
Security Council Open Debate
23 April 2020
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
Statement on behalf of Ireland
Thank you for convening this important debate, and for your leadership of the Security Council during these difficult times.
Ireland fully aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union and thanks Special Coordinator Mladenov for his briefing.
At the outset, I would like to express Ireland’s firm support for the Joint Appeal by the UN Secretary-General’s Envoys to the Middle East for a ceasefire across the region. Ireland is deeply concerned by the impact of COVID-19 in the Middle East, and the risks are exacerbated in countries affected by conflict.
The population of the Gaza Strip is particularly vulnerable, a vulnerability that is closely linked to the ongoing blockade, and we have increased our support for the provision of medical services there. Earlier this month, Ireland brought forward its annual €6 million contribution to UNRWA, to support its delivery of health and other essential services to Palestine refugees. We urge all parties to meet their obligations, by facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid, and ensuring that the Palestinian Authority and UN agencies have the funds they need to fight the pandemic.
While we welcome the coordination that has taken place between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities in response to the pandemic, we regret other actions that have continued in recent weeks, including the demolition of Palestinian structures in the West Bank, the arrests of the Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs and of the Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem, and incidents of settler violence. Violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law cannot be justified at any time, but they are particularly unacceptable in the current context.
Ireland remains committed to a negotiated two-state solution that ends the occupation that began in 1967, with Jerusalem as the capital of both States, on the basis of international law, the internationally-agreed parameters and relevant UN Security Council resolutions. This accords with the European Union’s firm position and with the General Assembly resolution of 6 December 2018, which Ireland introduced, on a Comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
We are therefore gravely concerned by the political agreement, reached during coalition negotiations in Israel, which foresees the annexation of territory in the West Bank. The unilateral annexation of territory is clearly illegal under international law. Recent announcements on settlement development in and around East Jerusalem are also of grave concern. Moves on annexation would severely undermine prospects for a viable two-state solution, would undoubtedly represent a most serious unilateral departure from the Oslo Accords, and would also have grave consequences for the lives and rights of Palestinians.
I now turn to the situation in Syria.
As the Syrian crisis enters its tenth year, Ireland remains deeply concerned about the ongoing suffering of the Syrian people, particularly in the North West and North East of the country.
Huge numbers of people remain displaced, many of whom are living with insufficient shelter, food and medicine, and are at severe risk. Effective humanitarian access is now more important than ever, and we urge the Security Council to extend the authorisation for cross-border humanitarian assistance and agree on additional crossing points.
Ireland strongly condemns all violations of international law in Syria, and we reiterate our call for the situation to be referred to the International Criminal Court. We also reiterate our support for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM). We welcome the recent UN Board of Inquiry report of 6 April on North West Syria, and the OPCW Investigation and Inspection Team report of 8 April.
Ireland joins the call for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, and we support the UN Special Envoy in his efforts to bring about a genuine, inclusive and comprehensive political solution, based on Resolution 2254.