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Statement by Amb. Byrne Nason, UNSC Open Debate-the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question

 Thank you very much Mr. President, and it’s a privilege to see you in the chair, back amongst us today, and as always a sincere thanks to Tor for his comprehensive briefing this morning. I would like to welcome Ambassadors Mansour and Erdan with us today.


 I want to say a very special thanks to Hanan Ashrawi, who has for so long been such an eloquent and powerful voice for the Palestinian people, and I wanted to recognise in particular your work in recent years, working as a strong advocate for a younger generation of Palestinian women and men, it’s much appreciated.


And thank you Daniel, for what was really a very valuable contribution, but also very thought provoking. It was really good to hear from you today and for your long standing contributions   to Israeli-Palestinian discussions.


Mr. President,


We are deeply concerned about the briefing we had from Tor this morning and what we know about the rise in violence across the West Bank, particularly the increase in settler violence and use of live fire by Israeli Forces.


We call on Israel to hold those responsible accountable, to end the culture of impunity around such incidents of violence and to ensure that any response by security forces is proportional and in compliance with international law. Ireland condemns all acts of violence, including rocket attacks from Gaza, which fuel tensions and put civilian lives at risk. 


Once again, I repeat Ireland’s call on Israel to halt all illegal settlement activity, including in East Jerusalem and in the E-1 area, as well as demolitions, evictions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures. Israel should provide permits for legal construction and development of Palestinian communities.


Ireland remains firmly committed to a negotiated two State solution, which provides a viable basis for a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict. We condemn all acts that threaten to erode this prospect.


We call for the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem to be upheld in both word and practice, recognising the special role of Jordan.


Mr. President,


Last month, during Ireland’s Security Council Presidency, two young women addressed this same debate: Ms. Mai Farsakh underscored the terrible impact of illegal settlements on Palestinian women and girls, and Ms. Meredith Rothbart illustrated for us clearly the essential role, and the constructive role, of civil society in local peacebuilding. Clearly, we saw through them, the occupation has a disproportionate impact on women and girls. Ireland commends civil society in the occupied Palestinian territory, and in Israel, for their efforts to develop an approach of community-based women’s empowerment.


Through those young women last month, we saw that they have the capacity to shape a more hopeful future for their societies.


We believe it is imperative that this Council, the parties to the conflict and the international community listen to their voices. 


We strongly condemn recent targeting of Palestinian activists and civil society organisations. Ireland calls on all duty bearers - Israeli and Palestinians alike - to protect and uphold the rights of civil society and human rights defenders.


Mr. President,


Ireland commends the vital work of UNRWA, which is of critical importance to millions of Palestine refugees in the occupied territory, and across the region. Ireland once again appeals to donors, including our Gulf partners, to enhance support for UNRWA.


Mr President,


Despite some recent welcome steps, we remain deeply concerned about access into Gaza and obstacles to reconstruction efforts, five months after the end of the conflict.


As noted in the Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment, there are significant mental health consequences faced by Gazans from prolonged exposure to violence, loss of family and loved ones, and the frustrations of lack of control from worsening poverty, unemployment, and insecurity in the Gaza Strip. We renew our call on Israel to end the blockade of Gaza.


Mr. President,


We welcome the announcement by the Palestinian Electoral Commission that municipal elections will be held in December. Ireland reiterates its belief that legislative Palestinian elections across all of the occupied territory, with the full participation of women, are necessary to give a democratic voice to all Palestinians, to help progress toward intra-Palestinian reconciliation and renewal of the legitimacy of national institutions.  


Finally Mr. President,


Ireland reiterates our call on the Middle East Quartet to enhance their efforts to work towards the resumption of a political process.  We welcome ministerial-level contacts between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, which have taken place in recent weeks.


As we approach the 30th anniversary of the Madrid Conference, it is imperative that this Council, partners in the region, and the wider international community remain engaged in working for a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.


There can be no doubt that we need to rekindle the hope that took hold in Madrid. We need to work to build confidence to enable a political path for an end to the occupation that began in 1967, so that Palestinian rights, as well as those of Israelis, can be guaranteed. 


Ireland stands ready, both through this Council and nationally, to assist in whatever way we can.


Thank you Mr. President. 

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