Statement by Amb. Byrne Nason - UNSC Briefing on the Middle East, Including the Palestinian Question
Statement30 November 2021
Thank you very much Mr. President, and I want to thank you Tor for your briefing.
Thank you also Comfort for your great insights from the Crisis Group perspective.
Mr. President, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory remains alarming.
Ireland strongly opposes Israel’s illegal policy of settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory. The continual construction of settlements undermines the viability and territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian State, violates international law, and damages trust. This applies particularly to sensitive areas, such as E1, Givat Hamatos, Atarot, as well as deep into the West Bank.
We urge Israel to halt all settlement progression and construction, and to comply fully with resolution 2334. Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, saw at first hand the damaging impact of settlements during his recent visit.
Ireland is gravely concerned at Israel’s designation of six Palestinian NGOs, including organisations supported by Ireland and the EU, as terrorist entities. Ireland and its EU partners take allegations of terrorism extremely seriously. However, in the absence of evidence that would substantiate these allegations, Ireland will continue to support the organisations concerned.
We are concerned about the impact of these designations for civil society, which plays a critical role in open democracies. We know from our own experience in Ireland of the positive contribution which civil society can make to a peace process. We will continue to support human rights defenders who promote respect for international law, peace and accountability.
Other negative trends give rise to serious concern.
The number of Palestinians injured by Israeli Forces using live ammunition in 2021 is five times higher than in 2020. We strongly condemn all acts of violence and terrorism, including in the Old City of Jerusalem, and remind all parties of their obligations under international law to ensure the protection of civilians.
Settler violence is reprehensible. All perpetrators must be held accountable, and the culture of impunity around such incidents of violence must end.
The threat of demolitions and eviction of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan continues to be troubling.
The status quo in Jerusalem as regards the Holy Sites must be observed.
We welcome the recent meeting of the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee and that both parties came to the meeting with a practical attitude in addressing the Palestinian economic situation, which is of serious concern. We echo the calls for the parties to translate this attitude into real change, and to address structural constraints to economic development.
UNRWA’s dire financial situation is also a matter of urgent concern. We must ensure that UNRWA has sufficient, predictable and sustainable funding so that it can continue to support the needs of Palestine refugees. Ireland joined a number of other donors in pledging additional support at the recent International Ministerial conference. We call on other donors, particularly in the region, to step up and translate political support into financial commitments.
The situation in Gaza remains deeply worrying. While, we welcome the easing of some restrictions, more must be done; we renew our call for Israel to end the blockade of Gaza. The support from Qatar and Egypt is positive, however, humanitarian and reconstruction relief remains insufficient to meet the needs of the people of the Gaza Strip.
We call on the parties to build on recent positive steps, to improve cooperation, and to reduce tensions. Direct and meaningful negotiations are essential, as is stronger Quartet engagement. The situation will not be resolved without sustained and substantive attention by the Council and by the international community.
Finally, Mr. President,
Ireland calls for a legitimate political horizon to end the occupation in line with relevant UN resolutions and bilateral agreements. We believe a two-State solution, if implemented, can deliver peace, security, freedom and justice for Israelis and Palestinians. We must continue to strive for an independent, democratic, contiguous, viable and sovereign Palestinian State – living side by side in peace and security with Israel – within secure and recognised borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 lines, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.
Thank you Mr. President.