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

Thank you President and thank you very much Tor for your briefing today.


In UNSCR 2334, the Council reiterated its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in that regard.


The assessment in the Secretary-General’s report in relation to the Security Council’s demand is clear, it is stark:


No such steps were taken during the reporting period as settlement activities continued.


Mr President, this is simply not acceptable.


I reiterate the longstanding position of Ireland and the European Union that settlements are illegal under international law, constitute a major obstacle to peace and gravely undermine the prospects of a two-State solution.


Yet again Tor, your report and that of the Secretary-General has highlighted the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, with the highest number of settlement units advanced since October 2020.


In 2021, only 10 building permits were granted for Palestinians. That compares to 2,526 housing starts in settlements. Israel’s cessation of further settlement building could preserve the possibility of an eventual negotiated solution between the parties. 


Mr President,


Israel must also cease evictions and demolitions, including of donor-funded structures, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law.


I reiterate Ireland’s position on the decision last month on the Masafer Yatta eviction case in the South Hebron Hills in the occupied West Bank. 


This increases the risk of forcible transfer of some 1,150  Palestinians and the demolition of their homes. The establishment of a firing zone is not an “imperative military reason” to transfer a population under occupation.


We are concerned by reports of increased movement restrictions for the communities and those providing humanitarian assistance.


Mr President,


In Resolution 2334, the Security Council calls for immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror. Ireland condemns all acts of violence.


There has been a horrible series of attacks against civilians in Israel.  In addition, the killings of Palestinians, including children, in Jenin and elsewhere, is becoming all too frequent. 


During the reporting period, the Israeli Security Forces killed 9 children.  Those responsible must be held accountable and this Council must do more to address this issue. 


Ireland condemns recent attacks from the Gaza Strip.  It is imperative that all parties strive to maintain the calm.


More needs to be done to alleviate the humanitarian situation, facilitate economic development, and lift the blockade, in line with Resolution 1860 of 2009. 


Ireland is also gravely concerned by the situation in the West Bank.  


Economic hardship is increasing for the Palestinian people, in the context of rising fuel and food prices, and the Palestinian Authority’s fiscal position remains very difficult. 


The increased encroachment of settlements on land and natural resources, especially on water, undermines Palestinian economic potential. UNRWA plays a vital role and must get sufficient support.  Ireland and its EU partners will continue to play our part. 


The Palestinian Authority has an important role to play, and so Ireland calls on the PA to do more; to intensify the process towards elections - as Tor has already said - to strive towards Palestinian reconciliation, and to reduce levels of tension and violence in whatever ways it can.


Ireland shares your concerns, Tor, at the tensions in Jerusalem and unacceptable challenges to the status quo in the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif.  The custodian role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is essential and must be fully respected. 


Mr President,


In a context of flagrant violations of international law and a lack of accountability, the role of civil society becomes all the more important.


Ireland’s support for civil society is steadfast and we reiterate our concern at Israel’s designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organisations.


Freedom of the media is also essential. We echo the comments of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; it is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation into the killing of Shireen Abu-Akleh.


Thank you, Tor, for your briefing to the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security. 


Ireland would welcome more regular reporting from you to this Council on the engagement and participation of women in peace and security in the region and we would like to have a systematic analysis of the implications of the conflict, particularly the occupation, for women and girls. 


Mr President,


To conclude, this Council has an obligation to ensure the implementation of Resolution 2334.  We are clearly failing in our duty to do that. 

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