Statement by Amb. Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on the Middle East Including the Palestinian Question
Statement25 March 2021
Thank you Madam President,
I would like to thank our Special Coordinator. Thank you Tor for your briefing this morning, in particular on the implementation of Resolution 2334.
Those who have experience of prolonged, seemingly at times intractable conflict know the painstaking work and difficult compromises that are needed to pave the way for peace. It is, in part, because of a shared experience of conflict that the Israel Palestine conflict resonates deeply with us.
It’s also why Ireland remains committed to a comprehensive and lasting solution to the question of Palestine, in accordance with internationally agreed parameters. We believe that a two State solution, with a viable State of Palestine based on the 1967 borders, alongside the State of Israel and with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, offers the only prospect for sustainable peace.
More than four years ago in 2016, this Council passed a resolution, which stressed, and I quote, that ‘the status quo is not sustainable’. And yet, the very activities that undermine the viability of a two State solution, which that resolution sought to address, have not stopped. Last year saw continued settlement expansion, alongside infrastructure projects in Area C, which are designed to meet the needs of ever-increasing settlements and which entrench division and inequality.
Settlements negatively impact Palestinian communities daily. They degrade adjacent Palestinian agricultural land, severely affecting the olive harvest in particular. They are also affecting the availability of already scarce water resources and causing pollution.
Settlements are an obstacle to peace, and undermine Israel’s own security. Ireland once again condemns Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.
Ireland assures this Council of our commitment to the principle of differentiation and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2334.
Ireland is extremely concerned at the increased rate of demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. So far this year, more than 280 structures have been demolished across the occupied Palestinian territory.
Recent demolitions in Humsa Al-Bqai’a in the Jordan Valley are particularly troubling, given the vulnerability of the affected population. We remain deeply concerned at the confiscation and impediment of humanitarian assistance. We are also concerned at the increased threat of evictions and demolitions, especially in East Jerusalem, particularly in Silwan, Al-Walajeh and Sheikh Jarrah.
Ireland condemns all acts of violence committed on both sides, which are contrary to Resolution 2334. They erode trust between the parties and have a corrosive effect. Tor, we echo your call for restraint on both sides. Ireland is concerned about the impact of occupation, violence on children and reminds parties of their obligations under international human rights and international humanitarian law.
Ireland is extremely concerned that UNRWA, which is a vital source of stability and security for so many vulnerable Palestine refugees, this year, faces a $200 million shortfall. More immediately, UNRWA faces a cash flow gap of $50m next month. We encourage all States, including those on this Council and in the region, to join Ireland and others in providing sustainable, predictable and sufficient funding to UNRWA’s critical operations and to assist with its immediate cash flow challenges.
Ireland reiterates its call on Israel to end the blockade of Gaza, where unemployment is at an all-time high, partly due to the impact of the Covid pandemic. We call on Israel to exercise its responsibility as the occupying power in ensuring equitable access to Covid vaccines for the Palestinian population in Gaza and throughout the occupied Palestinian territory.
Ireland and its EU partners stand ready to support inclusive elections across the occupied Palestinian territory and welcome the constructive meeting of Palestinian groups in Cairo last week.
Ireland asks Israel to facilitate elections across the occupied Palestinian territory, in particular in East Jerusalem. We strongly encourage steps to ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in the elections and the engagement of young people in the democratic process. I have personally witnessed the political engagement of Palestinian women at the Commission on the Status of Women, and they have participated in events in Ireland sharing experiences of peacebuilding. They have so much to contribute. We need their voices to help break through the stalemate. We must bring them in to the process.
Ireland recognises the vital contribution which a vibrant civil society can make, especially supporting the electoral process; we wish to stress the importance of safeguarding open, free and fair independent civil society engagement in the occupied Palestinian territory and in Israel.
We believe both sides need to take concrete steps to advance a two-State solution and avoid unilateral measures that make it more difficult to achieve. Ireland remains convinced that continued international engagement is also essential and Ireland stands ready to engage with the parties and the international community, to help build a reinvigorated approach by the Quartet and others, under the aegis of this Council.
Thank you, Madam President.