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Statement by Amb. Byrne Nason - UNSC Briefing on the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question

Thank you very much Mr. President,


I want to thank our Special Coordinator Wennesland for the briefing this morning, and a special thanks also to Commissioner-General Lazzarini and Professor Khalidi for their truly valuable insights this morning.


Ireland welcomes the ceasefire agreed last weekend following 11 days of violent conflict. The job now is for all parties to respect and maintain the ceasefire, to avoid the risk of further bloodshed.


All of those with influence on the parties must continue to use that leverage to ensure that the ceasefire is maintained and built upon. Israeli and Palestinian leaders must work to reduce rhetoric and to reduce tension.


Mr. President,


We welcome the fact that this Council was finally able to adopt a Press Statement after the ceasefire was agreed.  We have no cause however for self-congratulations. Our inability as a Council to utter a single agreed word as the conflict raged for 11 days marks a sobering failure of our collective diplomacy.


As Professor Khalidi noted, recent events and the weakness of our response put into perspective the scale of the challenge in charting a political path toward sustainable peace in the Middle East.


This Council must shoulder its responsibility. We must support the parties to meet that challenge and help to end the cycle of violence and bloodshed. 


In the immediate aftermath of the conflict, meeting humanitarian needs is essential, in particular for the stricken population in the Gaza Strip. Ireland has announced additional funding for both UNRWA and UNICEF in Gaza, and we urge all donors to increase their support at this critical moment including through the Inter-Agency Flash Appeal launched today.


Ireland is very concerned that UNRWA buildings, among them hospitals and schools, were damaged during military operations on Gaza. UNRWA plays a vital humanitarian role in Gaza and must be protected.


Commissioner-General Lazzarini, let me, through you, pay tribute to the dedicated staff of UNRWA, and other UN agencies and NGOs, who provided critical services and support throughout the crisis and are continuing to do so now.


We call on Israel, as the Occupying Power, to facilitate unimpeded access for humanitarian relief. We call on Hamas to facilitate unhindered humanitarian access in the Gaza Strip.


Mr. President,


Ireland supports an integrated approach to reconstruction.  


We renew our call on Israel to end the blockade of Gaza.  The Gaza Strip is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory. Reconstruction efforts must take this into account.


Israeli and Palestinian authorities must launch investigations, in line with international standards, into alleged violations of international humanitarian law during the conduct of hostilities. All parties, including Israel and Hamas and other militant groups, have a responsibility to respect international humanitarian law.


Mr. President,


The recent crisis has taken a devastating toll, especially on Palestinians. Many innocent Palestinians and Israelis have needlessly lost their lives, and many more have seen their lives torn apart. These terrible events underscore the simple fact that the Palestinian question cannot be ignored or put on the back burner.


Ireland echoes the Secretary-General’s call on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to move beyond the restoration of calm, to progress a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict.  We believe it is critical that women are part of this process, and Ireland was pleased to facilitate a briefing just yesterday by women civil society leaders in Palestine to members of this Council.


As our Minister for Foreign Affairs said last week, we must ask ourselves how we move past the recurring cycles of violence between Palestinians and Israelis.


Terrorist attacks must stop. These attacks cannot and should not be justified.


The flouting of international law, with expansion of illegal settlements into occupied Palestinian territory, must stop. 


Evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem and elsewhere in the West Bank must stop.


The demolition of Palestinian property, settler violence, intimidation and incitement must stop.


We must acknowledge that these actions, occurring at an unacceptable rate for many years, are a source of legitimate grievance among the Palestinian people and undermine prospects for peace and reconciliation.


This Council must require of Israelis and Palestinians that they live up to their commitments and comply with international law. Fundamental rights, in particular those of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association must be vindicated and respected equally.


Mr President,


We believe that this Council, acting in concert with the Quartet, key Arab States and other major stakeholders should now urge the parties to make serious and sustained efforts towards credible negotiations. 


The establishment of a genuine political horizon towards a negotiated two-State solution in line with UN resolutions, international law and the agreed parameters is essential to the delivery of a peaceful future where equal rights and equal opportunities can be enjoyed by Palestinians and Israelis alike.


Thank you Mr. President.



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