Statement at UNSC briefing on the Middle East, Incl. the Palestinian Question
Statement22 March 2022
Thank you Madam President and thank you Tor for your report on the situation in the oPT, including on the implementation of Resolution 2334.
The Special Coordinator’s briefing highlights the increase in violence in the occupied West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, at this particularly sensitive time. Ireland reaffirms our view that violence against civilians must cease.
In our last statement to the Council, we expressed our deep concern at continued reports of the use of excessive force by Israeli Security Forces leading to the killing and injuring of Palestinians, including children. Such acts have continued in the weeks since then. These killings shatter families and communities and take us ever further away from the possibility of a just and lasting peace. There must be accountability for the actions of the Israeli security forces.
Ireland also urges the Palestinian Authority to protect and uphold the human rights of Palestinians under its control and enhance its efforts to prevent terrorism. As Tor has made clear, the PA urgently needs international support in this regard.
In the run up to the upcoming religious holidays, Ireland calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and avoid escalation, so that these holidays can be safely and appropriately marked by all. We echo the Special Coordinator’s statement of 8th March in which he called on political, religious and community leaders from all sides to reject violence and speak up against those who try to inflame the situation.
We welcome the recent visit by Foreign Minister Lapid to Amman, and reiterate our call for the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem to be upheld, bearing in mind the special and historic role of Jordan as custodian of the Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.
In keeping with Ireland’s consistent position on respect for international law, we reiterate our call on Israel to halt all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem and in Area C of the West Bank. Such settlement activity is a flagrant violation of international law. Further settlement expansion plans, such as those for E1, Giv’at Hamatos and Atarot, would severely undermine the possibility of establishing a viable and contiguous Palestinian State.
Tor, your report highlights ongoing Israeli demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures, some funded by donors, including by Ireland and our EU partners. These acts are contrary to Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law and must cease.
Ireland remains particularly concerned about the Palestinian families who remain threatened with eviction from their homes, including in Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, despite recent positive developments. Israel must also address the enormous difficulties experienced by Palestinians seeking to obtain Israeli-issued building permits.
Children continue to endure the worst of this conflict. We are appalled that four children have been killed by Israeli forces in just over one month, and that many others have experienced detention and violence. Israel must uphold international standards for justice for juveniles. We call for an end to the administrative detention of children and any form of ill-treatment in detention. Children must never be the target of violence or put in harm’s way.
Ireland reiterates our concern at the designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist organisations. Ireland’s support for civil society is steadfast, and we recall the critical role it plays in promoting international law, peace, human rights and democratic values.
As a strong supporter of UNRWA, Ireland renews our call on the international community, including countries in the region, to step up efforts to support the Agency. This is essential for the provision of vital services to Palestine refugees, as well as for regional stability.
We commend UNRWA and the UN family for their continued work in the Gaza Strip, where the blockade continues to hamper reconstruction efforts. We acknowledge recent positive steps by Israel in this context and commend Egypt and Qatar’s ongoing contribution. However, more must be done. We renew our call for Israel to end its illegal blockade of Gaza in line with Resolution 1860.
Finally, Madam President,
This Council must redouble its efforts to address the root causes of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. The situation on the ground, including ongoing settlement expansion by Israel, continues to erode the basis for an agreed solution. In the absence of meaningful political progress and in the context of a climate of impunity and denial of basic rights, disillusionment is taking hold, especially amongst young people. The role that youth can play in bringing about a peaceful resolution to the conflict cannot be overstated.
This Council must recommit to the imperative of a two state solution, in line with Resolution 2334, as the only way to guarantee a stable, sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.