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Statement at the UNSC Open Debate on the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question

Thank you very much indeed Mr President,

 

At the beginning, I would like to wish a sincere Ramadan Mubarak to all. I also want to thank Special Coordinator Wennesland, dear Tor, and Mr. Paulsen you too, for your comprehensive briefings today. I also want warmly welcome the Ambassador of the Observer State of Palestine and the Ambassador of Israel amongst us today. 

 

Mr. President,

 

A comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East is possible.

 

Ireland’s position on how to achieve that is longstanding. Our position is based on respect for international law and agreed international parameters.

 

We repeat it here on this screen every month. Mr. President, it bears repeating again today.

 

A two State solution, with a viable State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders, alongside the State of Israel and with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, offers the strongest prospect for sustainable peace.

 

For that two State solution to be viable, Mr. President, strong, inclusive and accountable democratic Palestinian institutions based on respect for the rule of law and human rights are critical.

 

So too are free, fair and inclusive elections.

 

Ireland and our EU partners support the holding of elections across the occupied Palestinian territory and welcome the constructive engagement by the Palestinian factions.

 

Giving all Palestinians a voice will lend renewed legitimacy to and ownership over their national institutions. This shared objective deserves our full support.

 

In line with commitments made in the Oslo Accords, we urge Israel to facilitate the holding of elections across the occupied Palestinian territory, in particular in East Jerusalem. We also call on Israel to facilitate participation of international observers.

 

Ireland wishes to see completion of free, fair and inclusive elections in the occupied Palestinian territory.  We look forward to working with a future Palestinian government that upholds the principles of international law, non-violence and democratic governance, including respect for human rights and existing agreements, a government that works towards the peaceful establishment of a Palestinian state, based on the pre-1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.

 

Mr. President,

 

Elections are about giving the people their say. Palestinian women want to be heard and they want to see themselves represented where it matters. That means as voters, but also as candidates on the ballot paper.

 

As co-chair of the Informal Experts Group on Women, Peace and Security, Ireland looks forward to supporting these Palestinian women, who have so much to contribute.

 

I want to underline that participation is a right, not a request.

 

Just as we want to see women participate fully, we also want to engage young people, to encourage young people to be fully engaged with democratic processes.

 

Young people, like Oren Gian and Malak AbuSoud, who addressed this Council only two months ago, should be given the opportunity to shape the future that they will inherit. Promoting and safeguarding open, free and independent civil society engagement is also vital.

 

Mr. President,

 

Last month we heard yet another deeply concerning briefing from Special Coordinator Wennesland on the implementation of Resolution 2334. This Council has been receiving such briefings for more than four years.

 

Let’s be clear. Settlements were an obstacle to peace then, and they remain an obstacle to peace now.

 

I want to reiterate Ireland’s long-standing condemnation of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

 

We are gravely concerned by the Israeli authorities’ advancement of approval for construction in Har Homa E.  Implementation of the plan would effectively cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, threaten the contiguity of a future Palestinian State and severely undermine the viability of a two-state solution. 

 

Ireland is extremely concerned at the increase in demolitions, evictions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.  We call on Israeli authorities to cease these activities and provide adequate permits for legal construction in and development of Palestinian communities. 

 

In particular, the recent increase in the number of Palestinian families at risk of   eviction in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan are of grave concern. We underscore the importance of maintaining the Status Quo at the Holy Sites, in particular at Haram al Sharif/The Temple Mount.

 

Mr. President,

 

Acts of violence, including rocket attacks, continue to erode trust between the parties, and within their own communities, making a political settlement more difficult to achieve. Ireland condemns these and condemns all acts of violence.

 

We are concerned about the increase in settler violence and the particular impact of the occupation and violence on children. We remind the parties of their obligations under international human rights and international humanitarian law.

 

We renew our call on Israel to end the blockade of Gaza. We also reiterate our call on Israel as the occupying power to ensure equitable access to COVID vaccines for the Palestinian population in Gaza and throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.

 

I want to take this opportunity to most warmly welcome the announcement by Secretary of State Blinken of the resumption of US funding to UNRWA.  We encourage other States, in the region and elsewhere, to restore their contributions and if possible to increase their support. 

 

Mr. President,

 

As an island that has experienced and overcome conflict, it is our firm belief that divisions can be bridged, and longstanding enmities set aside.

 

As I mentioned at the beginning, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East is possible.

 

However, we must all continue to work towards this end. We believe it is incumbent on this Council, on the Quartet and on the international community to remain fully engaged with these important issues in the critical period ahead.

 

Finally, Mr President,

 

I want to touch briefly on the situation in Syria. Ten years since the start of this terrible conflict, we are as far away as ever from a political solution.  We commend the efforts of Special Envoy Pedersen and urge that a meaningful meeting of the Constitutional Committee take place soon.  Ireland and our EU partners will continue to provide and work to safeguard essential humanitarian support to the Syrian people.  

 

Thank you Mr. President.

 

 

 

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