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Statement at UNSC Open Debate on the Middle East

Thank very much Minister, and thank you for being with us and for chairing today’s debate. I want to welcome visiting Ministers also.

Thank you Tor for your comprehensive and sobering briefing.
Thanks also to Gidon and Nada  for your valuable insights on cooperation to deal with the challenges posed by the region’s climate crisis.
Madam President,
The grim events of last May reminded us all that this Council can ill afford to be complacent on the situation in the Middle East. 
Ireland reiterates that a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains both essential and urgent. It is incumbent on this Council and the wider international community to instill fresh momentum for the resumption of direct negotiations between the parties. 
We have no illusions about the scale of the challenge.  However, this does not absolve this Council of its responsibility to reinvigorate its efforts, not least for the sake of young people and their future.  More than 40 per cent of Israel’s population is under the age of 25 and more than 70 per cent of the population of the occupied Palestinian territory is under the age of 30. 
We have a collective duty to help ensure that these young people are given the prospect of a renewed political horizon, which will allow them to live in peace, and ensure their role in preserving peace. 
Ireland remains steadfast in our commitment to a resolution of the conflict, ending the occupation and achieving a two-state solution, in line with relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements.  This is the path to progress for all the people of Israel and Palestine. 
Madam President,
Ireland is gravely concerned by recent high levels of violence – including settler related violence- , as well as a ratcheting up of rhetoric.  We condemn all acts of violence and call for the de-escalation of tensions. 
Ireland calls on Israel to ensure that its security operations, including in Areas A and B of the West Bank, are proportionate and take full account of the obligation to protect civilians, particularly children. 
Over the past few days, Israel carried out a demolition in Sheikh Jarrah, in occupied East Jerusalem, for the first time since 2017. This operation culminated in the destruction this morning of two family homes and their source of livelihood. This is part of an ongoing pattern of demolitions, evictions and settlement expansion across the West Bank including East Jerusalem, which continues apace. These actions have severe humanitarian consequences. And, this incident, in particular, threatens the fragile status quo in Jerusalem and risks increasing violence.
International Humanitarian Law, and in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention, prohibits the unnecessary destruction of private property. Demolitions contribute to a coercive living environment for affected Palestinian communities. Once again, we call on Israel, as the occupying power, to fulfil its obligations towards this community and to cease its harmful practice of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian property.
Ireland reiterates our long-standing position on the illegality of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. This week’s decision regarding the construction of 1,465 units as part of the “Lower Aqueduct” plan as well as planned construction in the sensitive areas of E1, Atarot, and Givat Hamatos threaten the contiguity of a future Palestinian state and must not proceed.
We reiterate our call for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which continues to hamper reconstruction.  Ireland condemns recent attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip, as well as increased inflammatory rhetoric.  The long-suffering civilian population of Gaza urgently requires a political horizon and an  economic path forward to a sustainable future. 

Madam President,

Ireland welcomes the meeting between President Abbas and Minister Gantz, and looks forward to the implementation of the outcomes of this cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 
We call for progress on prisoner issues, the return of human remains, as well as further measures that will improve the lives of Palestinians which could assist in building much needed confidence for a political process.  Ireland looks forward to the second phase of local elections in March, which can help contribute to a renewal of Palestinian institutions. 
Ireland will continue to support the Palestinian people, including through our support for Palestinian institutions, civil society and UN agencies, especially UNRWA. 
We reiterate our concern at the recent Israeli decision to designate certain Palestinian civil society organisations as terrorist entities.  Ireland’s commitment to civil society remains undimmed. 
We call for continued support for UNRWA, as well as assistance from states in the region to the Palestinian Authority.  We welcome the resumption of the US-Palestine economic dialogue. Support for both the PA and UNRWA is critical for regional stability. 
Thank you Madam President

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