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Statement at UNSC briefing on the Middle East, Incl. the Palestinian Question

Thank you President and I’d like to thank the Deputy Special Coordinator Hastings for her briefing. I also want to thank the Permanent Representative of the United States for updating us on President Biden’s visit to the region.

Mr President,

Last month, this Council held an Open Debate on Strengthening Accountability and Justice for Serious Violations of International Law.

Accountability is vital across all files on this Council’s agenda, particularly in the context of the issues that we are discussing here today.

In the first 6 months of this year, 60 Palestinians were killed and more than 5,900 injured by Israeli Security Forces.

We are concerned about the pervasive culture of impunity for incidents of possible excessive use of force by Israeli Security forces, or even for potentially unlawful killings.

An independent investigation into the killing of Shireen Abu-Akleh remains essential. It is now well overdue.

We strongly condemn settler violence and other ideologically motivated violence. Action to bring perpetrators to justice remains extremely limited. We urgently need to reverse this trend and to hold those responsible accountable.

Ireland remains of the view that ongoing Israeli settlement activity gravely undermines the prospects of a two-state solution.  Immediate action is required now to preserve the viability of this goal.

This applies particularly to settlements, including Givat HaShaked, the Lower Aqueduct, Givat Hamatos and E1, that would gravely undermine the viability and contiguity of a future Palestinian State.

Mr President,

Ireland is particularly concerned at the situation in Area C.

Area C is part of the occupied Palestinian territory and, in line with the Oslo Accords, should be gradually transferred to Palestinian jurisdiction. 

We reiterate the critical importance of social and economic development in Area C, and call on Israel to allow more access and control for the Palestinian Authority.

We also call on Israel to cease evictions, and demolitions of Palestinian homes and related structures, in line with its obligations under International Humanitarian Law.

The recent Masafer Yatta eviction decision in the South Hebron Hills in the occupied West Bank is one of the more egregious examples.  It increases the risk of the forcible transfer of some 1,200 Palestinians and the demolition of their homes. Recent removals of water tanks are gravely concerning. 

Mr President,

The people of the Gaza Strip continue to suffer.

Cycles of violence and war and an illegal blockade have resulted in extreme hardship including poverty and food insecurity. We welcome Israel’s granting of additional permits and easing of some restrictions, but these measures will never be a substitute for ending the blockade. 

During the escalation of hostilities in May 2021, Israeli attacks may have violated International Humanitarian Law principles of distinction, proportionality and feasible precautions as documented by OHCHR.

However, over a year later, we are not aware of any criminal investigation of these incidents. There have also been no measures to ensure accountability for the indiscriminate firing of rockets towards Israel, in breach of International Humanitarian Law, or for other possible violations of IHL.

Mr President,

Civil society has a vital role to play in shining a light on violations of international law and promoting accountability for those responsible.

We are alarmed at the reduced space for civil society in the occupied Palestinian territory.  We will continue our strong cooperation with and support for Palestinian civil society, as affirmed by Ireland and eight other EU Member States in a statement on 12 July.

Ireland supports the UN High Commissioner’s call on Israel to revoke the designations against Palestinian civil society organisations as terrorist entities.

Moreover, Ireland calls on the Palestinian Authority to ensure a safe space for civil society and human rights defenders, who must be allowed to operate freely without fear of being subjected to intimidation, arbitrary arrest or abuse. 

We call on the Authority to exercise greater responsibility, within the constraints faced under the occupation.  The PA must work to reduce tensions and violence, reinvigorate preparations for essential, inclusive elections, and increase meaningful efforts on intra-Palestinian reconciliation. 

Mr President,

Ireland underlines our support for the work of the UN in the oPt and calls on Israel to facilitate this work. UNRWA plays a vital role in regional stability and merits strong support, including regionally. 

Mr President,

As I leave for a new posting next month, this is my last statement on this file as Permanent Representative of Ireland. Unfortunately, the prospects of reopening a political horizon for meaningful negotiations between the parties on achieving a two-state solution are as remote today, as when I arrived at the UN back five years ago in 2017.  I deeply regret that.

The same can be said for accountability.  Accountability is not something separate from the peace process and a political horizon. It cannot wait for political conditions to be right, and it cannot be substituted by economic development.

Ireland will continue to draw attention to violations by all duty bearers and to call for accountability.

In closing, Ireland calls on this Council to reinvigorate its efforts through coherent and effective action towards ending the occupation. 

Thank you.


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