Statement at UNSC briefing on the Middle East, Incl. the Palestinian Question
Statement28 September 2022
Merci Monsieur le Président, and thank you Tor for your sobering report. Ireland shares your concerns on the implementation of Resolution 2334 on settlements
Firstly, we are alarmed by the spike in violence today in Jenin following incursions by the Israeli Security Forces, with further loss of life and injuries to Palestinians. Along with the clashes in Nablus last week, these events clearly demonstrate that the fragile situation on the ground in the West Bank is continuing to deteriorate.
Ireland is appalled at the level of casualties in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. So far this year, according to OCHA, Israeli forces have killed more than 80 and injured more than 7,400 Palestinians in the West Bank.
We are particularly concerned by the level of civilian casualties; the protection of civilians is of paramount importance and is required under international law.
Israel has a right to defend itself. However, in doing so, it must respect its obligations under international law. Long-term security for both Palestinians and Israelis cannot be achieved through the use of excessive force or by acts of violence by anyone.
Such actions by the Israeli military in the Occupied Palestinian Territory undermine the capacity and effectiveness of the Palestinian Authority, which needs to be empowered and supported.
We continue to see Israel’s relentless expansion of new settlements, in flagrant violation of Resolution 2334 and international law. Ireland again joins other members of this Council, and the wider international community in calling on Israel to cease all settlement activities.
This year has witnessed continued increase in plans for settlement construction in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, compared with previous years.
Current Israeli plans for settlement establishment and expansion in the Nablus and Ramallah governorates, and on the outskirts of Jerusalem and Bethlehem pose the greatest threat to the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian State.
We are particularly concerned at plans in the E1, Givat Hamatos, Atarot, the Lower Aqueduct, Givat Hashaked, and Har Gilo WESTareas, which would effectively encircle East Jerusalem, disconnecting it from major urban areas in the rest of the West Bank.
Ireland is gravely concerned about the alarming increase in settler violence, with OCHA reporting a 34% increase in the monthly average of incidents causing injury or property damage this year compared with last year, and with an 83 percent increase on 2020.
We call on Israel not to proceed with demolitions in the village of Khallet Athaba in Masafer Yatta. Forced evictions resulting from demolitions give rise to violations of human rights. The forcible transfer of a civilian population of an occupied territory is also prohibited under international humanitarian law.
I recently had the opportunity to meet with Lina Abu Akleh, the niece of renowned Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Ireland supports Lina’s call for accountability and an independent investigation into the death of her aunt. Shireen deserves nothing less.
Last week’s Ad hoc Liaison Committee recalled the colossal economic and social challenges facing the Palestinian people. Ongoing restrictions on movement and access are compounding these challenges. Economic and social assistance is urgently required.
I am pleased that Ireland was able to increase its support to UNRWA by €2M, bringing its total support to €8M this year. We urge all Member States, including those in the region, to step up their support for UNRWA.
Ireland is also deeply concerned by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, exacerbated by the ongoing Israeli blockade in contravention of UNSCR 1860.
While incremental increases in the quota of work permits granted to Gazans by Israel is welcome, the total number of permits is less than 1% of the population, and has decreased significantly over the last number of years.
The human rights situation in Gaza is also very concerning.
We condemn in the strongest terms the execution by Hamas of five prisoners on 4th September. We call on Hamas to end the practice of executions and to return captured Israelis, including human remains, to their loved ones.
Actions on the ground, particularly Israeli settlement expansion in violation of Resolution 2334, continue to undermine a political horizon. This Council must step up to discharge its obligations under the UN Charter to maintain international peace and security, and to reaffirm the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
We must move beyond talking about the need for a two-State solution, and take real steps towards a just, inclusive and lasting peace. Progress is possible, but it requires political will.