Statement at UNSC briefing on the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question
Statement26 May 2022
Thank you Madam President and thank you Tor for your sobering briefing.
I would like to recognise our Israeli and Palestinian colleagues with us at the table this morning.
Madam President, I particularly wanted to address our civil society briefers Robi, Damelin and Daniel Munayer. I want to say that your work, and your words today deserve our attention. More importantly they deserve our support. We have carefully listened with the empathy that Robi suggested, and it’s a rare moment at this table that we have such sincere and refreshing briefings at the beginning of a debate. Thank you also to the Presidency for arranging this.
We have one clear message today, which is to call for urgent de-escalation.
All duty-bearers, including the international community, have a role to play. We must be clear, however, that there are concrete steps that Israel, as the occupying power, can take to de-escalate the situation.
Ireland reiterates the importance of protecting the status of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, and our full respect for Jordan’s custodial role. We share your concerns, Tor, that the forthcoming Jerusalem Day flag march will escalate tensions. We call on all concerned to ensure that it passes peacefully.
Yet again Tor, you have reported on deeply disturbing developments. Ireland condemns the recent terrorist attacks in Israel, most recently in Elad on 5 May. We have consistently said that there is no justification for terrorism, the victims of which deserve justice.
Ireland also condemns all loss of civilian life in the occupied Palestinian territory. We call on Israel to address disproportionate security responses, as seen in Jerusalem, Jenin and elsewhere.
We deplore the shocking killing of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu-Akleh and the excessive use of force by the police at her funeral. We call for a swift and independent investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. Freedom of the media is essential and journalists must be protected, as affirmed by this Council in its Resolutions 2222 and 1738.
Illegal settlement expansion by Israel continues. Ireland condemns the decision of the Israeli Higher Planning Council to advance plans for the construction of more than 4,000 housing units in the West Bank. We urge the Israeli authorities to reverse this decision.
These settlements clearly violate international law. They undermine prospects for a two-state solution, and are a major obstacle to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. This latest decision, as well as demolitions and evictions affecting the Palestinian populations in East Jerusalem and Area C, directly threaten the viability of a future Palestinian state, and are underlying causes of tension and violence.
In common with our EU partners, Ireland is deeply concerned by developments in Masafer Yatta, which could amount to the forcible transfer of some 1,200 Palestinians and the demolition of their homes. Ireland urges Israel to cease evictions and demolitions, including of donor-funded structures, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law.
The economic situation of the Palestinian people and the fiscal position of the Palestinian Authority remain dire. This has a destabilising effect. Structural constraints for sustainable development of the Palestinian economy must be removed. The Palestinian Authority must be further supported in its reform efforts, and the trend of declining donor support be reversed.
Ireland remains deeply concerned at the situation in the Gaza Strip and encourages the Israeli authorities to ensure that essential infrastructure projects can resume. We renew our call on Israel to lift the blockade on the Strip and commend regional partners for their ongoing support.
We also commend the UN system, in particular UNRWA, for its support to the Palestinian people in extremely challenging circumstances. In this year’s UNRWA mandate renewal, we urge the international community to match the political commitments to Palestine refugees with the funding required for the Agency to carry out its work.
While today our immediate focus is urgent de-escalation, a credible political horizon remains both vital and urgent. Economic and development measures on their own are not sufficient.
To advance prospects for the resumption of a genuine and inclusive political process, Ireland calls for confidence-building measures. Israel as the occupying power has a particular responsibility, for example, to refrain from the excessive use of administrative detention and to release those who continue to be detained without formal charge.
Ireland also reiterates its call for the release of the mortal remains of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul to their loved ones, so that they can have some closure, as well as for the release of the two Israeli civilians detained in the Gaza Strip. These and other measures could assist with resuming a meaningful political process, without which future generations of Israelis and Palestinians will remain caught in a vicious cycle of occupation and conflict.
Thank you Madam President.