Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on the Middle East
Statement26 February 2021
Thank you very much indeed Madam President.First, thank you Oren and Malak. Seeing you here in the Security Council today, listening to you both, reminds me in a powerful way of why we are here, what our purpose should be: to alleviate the human impact of conflict, and really frankly to waken up to the toll it takes on young people. You have a critical role in building peace, and in resolving the conflict that you live with. I have high hopes that in the future you will be real agents for preventing conflict too.
As an Irish woman I grew up on an island that was troubled. We learned the hard way that actually achieving and sustaining peace is indeed an intergenerational process. Including young people, as we recognised in several Council resolutions here on Youth, Peace and Security, builds better peace, it builds more sustainable peace, and that is true whether it is in Ireland or in the Middle East. So I want to thank you for what you said to us this morning.
We see youth engagement in political processes, including in the upcoming elections in Israel and Palestine, as really crucial.
We know that Palestinian youth are especially affected by occupation. Over half of the Palestinian population, we know also, is under the age of 29. Palestinian youth sadly remain disempowered and disenfranchised, with high unemployment rates and low political representation.
Ireland is a strong supporter of education for Palestinian youth, which we believe is crucial for Palestine’s own long-term economic viability. Ireland is proud of its longstanding support for UNRWA’s delivery of services, including quality education, to Palestine refugees. We call on other donors, and on Council Members here today, to support UNRWA’s vital work.
We also recognise the disproportionate impact of occupation on Palestinian women and girls, who face greater constraints in all areas of economic, social and political life. Ireland actively supports a range of initiatives focused on building Palestinian women’s political participation and the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda more broadly. I have welcomed Palestinian women and girls to our deliberations here at the UN, and I can tell you they are powerful advocates for the role of women anywhere in the political process.
I want to thank our Special Representative Tor Wennesland for his briefing today.
Together with the European Union, Ireland strongly opposes illegal Israeli settlements. Settlements are a major obstacle to peace and undermine the viability of the two-State solution. A two-State solution which Ireland fully supports and as affirmed in Resolution 2334 of this Council.
Ireland is gravely concerned by the repeated demolition of Palestinian homes and other structures in Humsa Al-Bqai’a and elsewhere. The rules of international humanitarian law prohibit the unnecessary destruction of private property, and Israel must immediately cease such practices.
Israel as the occupying power also has obligations under international humanitarian law to allow and facilitate full and unhindered humanitarian assistance to those in need. The destruction and confiscation of humanitarian aid is unacceptable and causes harm and suffering to ordinary Palestinians.
53 Palestinian schools across the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, are at risk of demolition. The rights of children to protection, safety, and well-being must be upheld at all times.
We recall that the Oslo Accords provided for gradual transfer of Area C to Palestinian jurisdiction. Current Israeli actions and trends make this transfer increasingly difficult to envisage and have a real impact on the prospects and lives of Palestinians, especially young Palestinians.
Persistent acts of violence as well as movement and access restrictions and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law damage trust between Israelis and Palestinians and within their own communities; making a peaceful settlement more difficult to achieve. Where accountability is absent, a climate for further human rights abuses is fostered. Breaking this cycle is integral to achieving a peaceful settlement.
Ireland congratulates the Government and people of Israel on its commendable achievements on the vaccination of its citizens. We urge Israel, as the occupying power, to ensure free and equitable access and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to Palestinians - in line with international law.
Ireland renews its call on Israel to end its illegal blockade on Gaza. For many young people in Gaza, their life has been defined and limited by the blockade. They live in a protracted humanitarian crisis. Ireland is also very concerned at the provisions announced earlier this month by the Gaza authorities allowing male guardians to restrict travel by unmarried women relatives. We oppose the curtailing of the rights of women and girls to move independently.
Ireland reiterates our support for the holding of elections in Palestine. We encourage the Palestinian factions in their efforts to ensure a free, fair and inclusive electoral process and we call on Israel to facilitate voting, particularly in East Jerusalem.
We encourage all efforts to ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and of young people in those elections.
Finally, Ireland reiterates our willingness to assist Palestinians and Israelis in their efforts to reengage on the path to peace. We welcome the recent meeting of Quartet Envoys and the efforts of the Munich group. We echo Tor Wennesland’s call for reinvigorated efforts by the Quartet and other international actors, including the League of Arab States and by members of the Council. Ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires ongoing sincere coherent engagement by the international community as a whole and by this Council in particular. We stand ready to play our part.
Thank you Madam President.