Statement at UNSC briefing on the Middle East, Incl. the Palestinian Question
Statement19 December 2022
Thank you Madam President and thank you Tor for your briefing, and be assured of our full and continued support for your work.
President, today is Ireland’s last meeting on the situation in the Middle East during our current term on the Security Council.
While we would have liked to acknowledge progress on this file, the reality is that the prospects of reopening a political horizon and achieving a two-State solution are as remote today as when we joined the Council two years ago.
The consequences of this have never been more stark. This month, we mark a tragic milestone: 2022 has become the deadliest year for Palestinians living in the West Bank since the UN began recording fatalities in 2005.
Today, we want to focus on three issues that are central to putting us back on the path to peace:
Firstly, the need to halt Israeli settlement activity;
Secondly, the need to protect civilians and ensure accountability.
Thirdly, the need to rekindle hope through de-escalation, restoration of a political horizon and support for civil society and humanitarian actors.
Six years ago, the Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2334, reiterating its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel has ignored this Council’s demand.
As your briefing today highlights, Tor, Israel continues to establish and expand settlements in flagrant violation of international law. This is simply unacceptable.
As we have repeatedly stated in this Council, settlements undermine prospects for a two-State solution, and are a major obstacle to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.
We repeat our call on Israel to immediately cease all settlement activity, and to comply fully with Resolution 2334.
There has also been a sharp rise in settler violence, with Israeli forces consistently failing to prevent settlers from harming Palestinians. It is imperative that Israel acts urgently to prevent such incidents.
We also wish to reiterate the importance of protecting the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, and our full respect for Jordan’s custodial role.
As highlighted in Tor’s report, the level of violence against civilians we have witnessed this year is deeply alarming.
Ireland is particularly concerned by the plight of children. 42 Palestinian children and one Israeli child have been killed in 2022. This is over double the number killed last year. Moreover, we share Tor’s deep concern over Israel’s widespread use of administrative detention of minors.
Ireland condemns in the strongest of terms the killing of 16-year old Jana Zakarneh, who was shot dead on the roof of her own home during an Israeli Defence Forces operation in Jenin.
We reiterate our call for accountability in respect of all civilian deaths. Accountability is the cornerstone of a political horizon and a meaningful peace process.
In Ireland’s first address to the Council on this issue in January 2021, Minister Simon Coveney recalled that, during the lowest moments of our own peace process in Ireland, we never lost sight of the need for what we called then the “duty of hope”.
Such hope requires all sides to exercise restraint and take steps towards de-escalation. We must urgently break this current cycle of violence.
It requires us to redouble our efforts to deliver a political horizon, addressing the root causes and drivers of conflict.
And it requires us to protect and empower those who contribute to peace-building and the delivery of essential services to Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory and in the region.
In this regard, we are alarmed at the reduced space for civil society in the occupied Palestinian territory, which is likely to come under further threat in the coming months. We reiterate our call on Israel to reverse its decision on the designation of human rights NGOs as terrorist entities.
We are deeply concerned at reports that Salah Hammouri, a Palestinian-French lawyer and human rights defender, has been forcibly deported from the occupied Palestinian territory by the Israeli authorities. Mr Hammouri’s deportation is a breach of international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention. We condemn this action by the Israeli authorities. Mr Hammouri must be allowed to return home.
We acknowledge the vital role of UNRWA for stability in the region, and welcome the extension of UNRWA’s mandate for a further three years. We are particularly concerned about the situation in the Gaza Strip, where a vast majority of the population continue to depend on humanitarian assistance.
Finally, Mr. President,
Let me assure you that even as our term on this Council concludes, Ireland will remain closely engaged on this conflict, and will continue to monitor the situation very closely and very intensively.
Ireland remains committed to supporting all efforts aimed at achieving a just and lasting two-State solution – at the UN and beyond. We continue to believe that, with sustained political will, progress is possible. And this is now more important than ever.
Thank you, Mr. President.