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EU Stakeout, UNSC Debate on the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question

I would like to make the following statement today on behalf of the three current EU Members of the Security Council, Estonia, France and Ireland and the former EU Members of the Council, Belgium and Germany.

Today we wish to highlight the critical importance of Palestinian legislative, presidential and National Councilelections.

Strong inclusive and accountable democratic Palestinian institutions based on respect for the rule of law and human rights are an important element of a viable two-state solution.

We stand ready to support free, fair and inclusive elections across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and welcome the constructive engagement by the Palestinian factions. 

We call on the Israeli authorities to facilitate the holding of elections across all of the Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem, in line with commitments made in the Oslo Accords as well as to facilitate the participation of international observers across all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. 

We strongly encourage the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in the elections and the engagement of young people, persons with disabilities and representatives of other marginalised groups in the democratic process. We wish to stress the importance of safeguarding open, free and fair independent civil society engagement.

We look forward to the completion of free, fair and inclusive elections in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and to pursuing our current work and relations with the Palestinian Authority. In line with longstanding EU principles, we recall the importance of the principles of international law and non-violence, Israel's legitimate right to exist, maintaining existing agreements and working towards the peaceful establishment of a Palestinian State based on the pre-June 1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the future capital of two States.

We reiterate our strong opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and our long-standing position that all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a two state solution impossible.  

We are deeply concerned by the Israeli authorities’ advancement of approval for the construction in Har Homa E. We call on the Israeli government to halt settlement construction and specifically not to proceed with the final approval of the respective plan. Implementation of the plans for Har Homa would effectively cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and threaten the contiguity of a future Palestinian state.

We are also deeply concerned by the increase of evictions and demolitions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem. Such unilateral actions are illegal under international humanitarian law and fuel tensions. We call upon the Israeli authorities to cease these activities and provide adequate permits for legal construction and development of Palestinian communities. Potential evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in the coming days and weeks are of particular concern, as are recent repeated demolitions and confiscation of items and structures carried out by Israeli authorities at Humsa Al-Bqai’a in the Jordan Valley.

It is urgent to relaunch a credible peace process that allows for direct negotiations between the parties. To that aim, we encourage the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to take political and technical steps to rebuild trust, and to refrain from unilateral actions that increase tensions and undermine the two-state solution. We urge all parties to refrain in particular from all forms of violence and incitment targeting the civilian population.

We remain committed to supporting all efforts aimed at achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East based on international law, relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and agreed parameters. We will continue to engage with all relevant stakeholders including Members of the Quartet, and partners in the region, particularly Egypt and Jordan, which met with France and Germany in Paris on March 11.

We warmly welcome the announcement by Secretary of State Blinken of the resumption of US funding to UNRWA and we encourage other donors, in the region, and elsewhere, to restore their contributions, and if possible increase their support.  Finding long-term, predictable and sustainable funding solutions for UNRWA is as important as strenghtening the performance and efficiency of the Agency.

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