Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
The meeting was called to order at 11.10 a.m.
Adoption of the agenda
The agenda was adopted.
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
The President: (spoke in Spanish) In accordance with rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure, I invite the representative of Israel to participate in this meeting.
I propose that the Council invite the Permanent Observer of the Observer State of Palestine to the United Nations to participate in this meeting, in accordance with the provisional rules of procedure and the previous practice in this regard.
In accordance with rule 39 of the Council's provisional rules of procedure, I invite Mr. Taye-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, to participate in this meeting.
The Security Council will now begin its consideration of the item on its agenda.
I now give the floor to Mr. Zerihoun.
Mr. Zerihoun: I thank you, Mr. President, and the members of the Security Council for the opportunity to brief the Council today on the current situation in the Middle East, which unfortunately remains extremely concerning.
Today we witnessed yet another example of the escalating violence when a large group of Palestinians set fire to the compound containing the holy site of Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries, but the site sustained major damage. As with the many deadly incidents over the past weeks, the Secretary-General strongly condemns this reprehensible act and calls on those responsible to be swiftly brought to justice. The United Nations welcomes President Abbas' condemnation of the arson attack and his announcement that a committee has been established to conduct a full investigation into the crime.
This incident represents a particularly troubling development in the light of its religious dimension. We call on all sides to respect the sanctity of all holy sites and reject the extremist elements that are pursuing a political agenda and seeking to transform the current situation from a national into a religious struggle. If they are successful in those efforts, the consequences could be catastrophic for Palestinians and Israelis alike, with serious reverberations throughout the region.
This latest incident comes on the heels of a deadly week in the West Bank, Jerusalem and East Jerusalem. There were 11 reported attacks against Israelis and Israeli security forces, leaving 4 Israelis and 9 Palestinians dead and 16 Israelis and 4 Palestinians wounded. There were also three reported stabbings and ramming attacks on Israelis in Israel, leaving 10 Israelis injured and 3 Palestinian suspects wounded. In Gaza, a seventh Palestinian succumbed to his wounds on 10 October, after clashing with the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) near the security barrier the previous day. On 11 October, and a Palestinian woman and her 4-year-old child died in Gaza after Israeli air strikes on Hamas sites caused a building to collapse. The air strikes were in response to rocket-fire on southern Israel the day before, 10 October.
Palestinian militants fired at least eight rockets towards Israel during the past week alone, with most having fallen short and landed within Gazan territory, and one having been intercepted by Iron Dome. Another rocket was test-fired at the sea, to which the Israeli Defence Forces responded with warning shots, injuring one Palestinian. As of yesterday, a total of 7 Israelis and 32 Palestinians, including those who allegedly conducted or attempted attacks, were killed. Some 124 Israelis, including Israeli security force personnel, and over 1,118 Palestinians have reportedly been injured since 1 October.
Since those latest attacks, Israel's Security Cabinet has passed a broad range of new security measures, which are already being implemented. The Israeli Defence Forces have already significantly bolstered their presence in Israeli city centres, while many Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem have been surrounded by security forces, with access roads having been blocked and checkpoints established. Following the deterioration that began on 1 October, the Israeli authorities have also reinstated a number of movement restrictions in the West Bank, in particular by restaffing 16 checkpoints that had previously been left unstaffed. Ad hoc checkpoints have been erected at over 100 West Bank sites for varying periods of time.
Additional measures are being introduced with the goal of deterring would-be terrorists from carrying out attacks. The homes of those accused of carrying out terror attacks will be demolished within days of any attack, and their families — if residents of East Jerusalem and not Israeli citizens — will have their permanent residency status revoked. Already this month, two structures have been blown up and a third one partially sealed. However, those actions followed attacks that took place in 2014. A total of 30 Palestinians, including 20 children, were displaced as a result of those demolitions.
The United Nations has maintained a consistent position on those issues. Collective punishment, including house demolitions, is counterproductive and contravenes international law, and we have urged Israel to cease that damaging practice. What is clear is that the current crisis cannot be resolved through security measures alone. The persistence of the occupation and diminishing prospects for achieving Palestinian aspirations to statehood have transformed long-simmering Palestinian anger into outright rage. That stark reality has been compounded by the increasingly dire economic situation and circumstances, including the bleak prospects for youth employment. The continued and expanding settlement activities further diminish the hope and potential for creating a viable Palestinian State. Such loss of political perspective is the single-most damaging factor that contributes to the anger and frustration driving the violence that we are seeing today.
Against this backdrop, there are a number of factors that sparked the current crisis. Tensions at the holy sites in Jerusalem were the main instigators. Reckless statements made by Palestinian and Israeli extremist elements, reinforced by some mainstream voices as well, have insinuated that Israel is aiming to change the status quo at the holy sites. This fear has reverberated widely across the Arab world. Prime Minister Netanyahu's repeated assurances that Israel has no intention of changing the historic status quo at the holy sites have been welcome, but perceptions will change only when concrete actions, based on the agreements between Israel and Jordan, follow those words.
A second factor feeding the escalation has been the apparent heavy-handed approach taken by Israeli security services. Wide dissemination of video footage of several incidents fueled more attacks and has raised serious questions as to the appropriate level of force used by the IDF and police. The Secretary-General has called for a thorough investigation of all such cases. It is clear that such incidents serve only to exacerbate the situation, leading to a vicious cycle of needless bloodshed. We appreciate Israeli efforts to reduce the lethality of response, particularly in Gaza after the indefensible killings of protesters behind the separation fence, and we encourage greater restraint whenever there is no imminent threat to life or of serious injury.
Finally, we have seen that the impact of social media and irresponsible rhetoric has played a dramatic role in the escalation. On this count, both sides have much to be blamed for, but we welcome the efforts of leaders in recent days to tone down their statements. We call on community, religious and political leaders on all sides to calm the language they use in this regard and to work together to de-escalate the situation.
The President (spoke in Spanish): I thank Mr. Zerihoun for his briefing.
I now give the floor to the Permanent Observer of the Observer State of Palestine.
Mr. Mansour (Palestine) (spoke in Arabic): Allow me at the outset to congratulate the friendly country of Spain on its accession to the presidency of the Security Council this month. I should like to thank you, Sir, for your leadership and skill in the outstanding accomplishment of your tasks and for your positive response to the request to convene this urgent meeting of the Security Council.
I further express our thanks and appreciation to the friendly Russian Federation for its presidency of the Council last month.
Lastly, I thank Assistant Secretary-General Zerihoun for his briefing.
We come to the Security Council today to ask it intervene on an urgent basis to end the aggression against the defenceless Palestinian people and its shrines, which have been violated by the Israeli military occupation, settlers and extremists. We have documented this aggression in five letters that we have sent to the President of the Security Council over the past 10 days, during which more than 35 martyrs have fallen, including many children, and more than 1,500 people have been injured by live ammunition, rubber bullets and other means. Most of the victims have been minors below the age of 18.
We have all witnessed through satellite television and social media the killings and mass arrests of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli occupation forces, merely for participating in demonstrations against the Israeli occupation and its brutal, illegal practices and for seeking to end the occupation. Islamic holy sites and the Al-Aqsa Mosque have been subjected to ongoing aggression by the Israeli authorities and extremists, who want to impose a change of the current status quo. This provocation of our people has further escalated the situation since September and threatens to give the conflict a sectarian character that will destroy everything in its wake.
Israel, the occupying Power, is responsible for bringing us to this dangerous juncture. We must hold it accountable for its violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem and its environs, are fertile ground for the terrorist threat being faced our people. There will be no hope for a serious political process without a full, decisive end to settlement activities.
It is high time to put an end to Israel's actions and to compel it to honour its commitments under international law. Israel cannot be allowed to enjoy impunity for its crimes against our people in the occupied Palestinian States, including East Jerusalem. Israeli officials should be held responsible for these crimes, as should the settlers who have committed such ugly terrorist acts as the torching of the Dawabsha family in their home in the middle of the night, which killed an 18-month-old infant and his parents and burned his 4-year-old brother, who remains in hospital on the brink of death. Israeli Minister of Defence Moshe Ya'alon claims to know the terrorists who committed this act, but they have yet to be arrested or punished for their terrorist acts. This would seem to represent a cover-up and collusion on the part of the Israeli Government.
The occupation maintains its brutality by surrounding and blockading Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, which constitutes collective punishment in violation of the rules of international law. Israel destroys the homes of Palestinians and permits the formation of armed Jewish militias, as called for by the Mayor of West Jerusalem. We believe that such terror and aggression will not break the will of our people or weaken our resolve to peacefully resist and end the occupation and to achieve our independence as a sovereign State with East Jerusalem as its capital.
From this Chamber, we hail our people for its steadfastness and sacrifices; we pay tribute to the martyrs and honour the injured. We express our support for the Palestinian prisoners.
The Security Council must assume its responsibility in maintaining international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, by condemning this aggression, working to bring it to an immediate end and forcing Israel to withdraw its armed formations immediately from the areas of contact with our people, especially in occupied East Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israel must respect the established status quo in those sacred places in word and deed, and allow our people — Christians and Muslims — to practise their religion in peace. We do not trust the words and promises of the Israeli Government. Its immoral actions speak louder than its words. Israel has violated its responsibility as an occupying Power to protect civilians in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. It is the responsibility of the United Nations and the Security Council to provide protection for our people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, until the occupation has ended in the Palestinian State.
In this respect in 1994, the Security Council adopted resolution 904 (1994) following the Hebron massacre at the hands of a terrorist settler. The resolution called for protection for our people in the occupied territory and a temporary international presence, including observers. The resolution called upon the Israeli Government to remove weapons from the hands of settlers. We call upon States members once again, not only to implement that resolution and all other relevant United Nations resolutions, but also to seriously and urgently address the issue of providing international protection for our people. This issue has become more urgent than ever before and it requires the Council's immediate attention.
In conclusion, our people, who are under occupation and who suffer from injustice, oppression and aggression, have for many decades asked when the occupation will end and when the Palestinian people will achieve independence and security. Is the Council going to answer that question? Is the Council going to do something about it?
The President (spoke in Spanish): I now give the floor to the representative of Israel.
Mr. Roet (Israel): As we sit here today, Israel is facing an onslaught of terrorism; men, women and children are being stabbed to death on the streets on a daily basis. Yet for them there has been no demand for an emergency session of the Security Council; no call for the Palestinian leadership to stop their incitement; and not even a whisper of condemnation of these acts could be heard from the Council.
Eitam and Na'ama Henkin were shot to death while driving in their car. Their four children were in the vehicle and watched their parents killed— executed— in front of their eyes.
Chaim Chaviv was shot and killed on a city bus in Jerusalem on his way home from a visit to his doctor. Two terrorists boarded the bus, locked the doors so that no one could escape, and started to shoot and stab the passenger. Chaim Chaviv was 78 years old. These are just a few of the silent victims of Palestinian terror.
Over the course of the last month, 24 terror attacks have claimed the lives of 8 Israelis and injured 70, including an official from the International Labour Organization. Fifteen of them are still hospitalized. This tide of terror has washed over the entire nation and it spares no one; young and old are being targeted every day. Israelis do not feel safe walking down the street, they avoid taking the bus to work and they fear for the lives of their children every time they walk out of the door.
We face an enemy who is willing to die in order to kill. These people, who kill innocent civilians in cold blood, abide by no rule and have abandoned even the most basic morality. Israel is taking every necessary means to defend its citizens and is responding proportionately to these attacks. I have no doubt that if, on a daily basis the citizens of member States were being stabbed in the streets with butcher knives or shot on buses, their security forces would have reacted in the same way.
We heard in the Secretariat briefing today the so-called reason for this campaign of terror. The real root cause of this wave of terror is clear. It was inflammatory rhetoric and lies that lit the fuse and it is incitement that keeps feeding the flames. The violence that Israel now faces began with lies about the Temple Mount. President Abbas has continually accused Israel of trying to change the status quo. Just two days ago he claimed that “Israel intends to make Al-Aqsa Jewish”. This is a deliberate and malicious lie. Knowing full well the consequences of their words, Palestinian leaders have repeated this outlandish conspiracy theory over and over again and it is utterly baseless.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, as we heard today, has stated time and time again, including from the rostrum in the General Assembly, that Israel is firmly committed to the status quo. We continue to protect the right of Muslims to pray in the mosque, as well as the freedom of all people — Muslims, Christians, Jews and others — to visit the Temple Mount. The facts speak for themselves. For decades Israel has maintained the status quo and will keep on doing so. Let me be crystal clear — Israel will not agree to any international presence on the Temple Mount. Such a presence would be a change in the status quo.
Since 1967, Israel has been doing everything in its power to preserve the sanctity of this site. We do this out of a deep and abiding respect for the principle of freedom of religion and the historic connection of the three monotheistic faiths to the Temple Mount. Yet, it is clear that this respect is not mutual. Palestinian leaders are determined to erase Jewish history and deny any historic connection between the Jewish people and our holiest site. In a proposal that the Palestinians asked to submit yesterday to UNESCO, they tried do exactly that. This proposal calls on UNESCO to include the Western Wall, HaKotel HaMa'aravi, the site of Jewish prayer for millennia, as an integral part of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
When the Palestinian leadership has so little respect for places that have been sacred to the Jewish people throughout their history, it is no surprise that the Palestinian people treat the Jewish holy site with such disdain and disregard. Just last night, a mob of Palestinians set fire to the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus, a site of prayer and pilgrimage for Jews through the generations. This is a desecration and a blatant violation of the freedom of worship. The heinous attack on a biblical holy site can be explained only by incitement and a lack of respect for the religion and heritage of others.
The disrespect for the sanctity of holy sites is also evident in the actions of Palestinians on the Temple Mount. Militant Islamist agitators have used the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a staging ground for a calculated, violent provocation. On the eve of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, radical Islamists stockpiled rocks, planks, wooden sheets and fireworks, as well as Molotov firebombs and explosive devices, to prevent Jews, as well as Christians, from visiting the Temple Mount.
The Palestinians and the representatives of the Arab countries speak of the sanctity of their holy sites, but when Islamist militants desecrated Al-Aqsa, by using it as a weapons depot, they stood mute. Instead, President Abbas defended these rioters and lit the spark that set our region ablaze. He declared,
“We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem ... With the help of Allah, every shaheed will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward ... Al-Aqsa is ours, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is ours. Everything is ours, all ours. They have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet.”
I repeat, Jews have no right to desecrate it with their filthy feet. Can anyone imagine what the reaction would have been if an Israeli leader or any other leader, for that matter, had uttered such a hateful sentiment? The Security Council would have quite rightly wasted no time in convening to condemn it. Yet, when the President of the Palestinian Authority makes such a blatantly prejudiced statement, the Council reacts with complete silence.
Even now, as the violence continues and lives are lost every day, instead of calming tensions Palestinian leaders continue to lie and use inflammatory rhetoric. They are stoking the flames by portraying terrorists as innocent victims. Just two days ago, in a televised broadcast to the Palestinian people, President Abbas accused Israel of killing an innocent 13-year old Palestinian boy. There are two facts that President Abbas did not share with his public. First, the boy is not dead. He is fully conscious and is being treated in an Israeli hospital. Secondly, he is not innocent. This 13-year old Palestinian brutally attacked a 13-year old Israeli boy who was riding his bicycle, stabbing him no fewer than 15 times. No one needs to take my word for it; there is a video of this on social media. When a young child is incited to pick up a knife instead of being encouraged to pick up a basketball or a book, something is deeply wrong.
As Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, Executive Director of the Israeli National Council for the Child, wrote, it is very easy to use children for the needs of adults. It is so easy to incite children and to drag them into war games. It is so tempting to turn children into symbols. It is so easy and, yet, so wrong, so simple and so dangerous. Tragically, this is exactly what the Palestinian leadership is doing. Such acts of terror do not occur in a vacuum. They are the product of a deliberate policy of incitement aimed at filling the minds of Palestinian children with hatred.
From an early age, Palestinian children are subjected to propaganda that promotes hatred and incites them to violence. Young children watch television shows with friendly hosts that encourage them to kill all Jews and become martyrs. Schoolchildren in the West Bank study using official Palestinian Authority textbooks that legitimize indiscriminate violence against Israelis. Palestinian teenagers follow Facebook posts and Twitter feeds that call on them to stab Jews and that applaud violent acts like the murder of Eitam and Na'ama Henkin, of blessed memory.
The situation is indeed dire, but there is a way forward. Just yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed his willingness to meet with the Palestinian leadership and with President Abbas in order to bring calm to the region. Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Netanyahu stood here in the United Nations and declared that he is ready for direct negotiations with the Palestinians, without any preconditions. If the Council is serious about promoting peace, it must join in Prime Minister Netanyahu's call and insist that President Abbas come to the negotiating table. Israel's historic agreements with Egypt and with Jordan prove that only direct negotiations can lead to a real and lasting peace. Only such negotiations can create a new reality for all the people of the region.
The President (spoke in Spanish): I shall now give the floor to the members of the Security Council.
Mrs. Kawar (Jordan) (spoke in Arabic): I should like to express my deep gratitude to the President of the Council for agreeing to organize this special meeting.
Jordan called for this urgent meeting, in light of the pressing need to address the latest developments in the Palestinian territories, and in particular in occupied Jerusalem. This is the result of the unlawful and arbitrary practices of Israel against the Palestinian people, its incursion into the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Haram Al-Sharif, its attempt to impose a situation that would change the status quo in the city of Jerusalem, and the provocation of Palestinians by Israeli extremists in Jerusalem and its holy sites, which have reached unprecedented and escalated levels that cross all possible lines. What Israel is doing in occupied
Palestinian territories, in systematic violation of the rights of defenceless Palestinian people, requires the Council to shoulder its responsibilities, put an end to these attacks, take adequate and effective measures to protect the Palestinian people, stop these reprehensible acts and prevent them from happening again.
The Israeli occupation and the injustice endured by the Palestinian people held hostage by it have lasted too long — over seven decades. The rights of the Palestinian people to life, dignity, security over their land and self-determination are being violated. Every day, the Israeli occupation devises a new set of coercive measures against the Palestinian people. The Palestinians have lost hope that the international community will free them from the yoke of occupation and from daily Israeli aggressions, which do not spare women, children or the elderly.
The security of Israel and its citizens cannot be achieved with an iron fist, by indulging in various types of collective and individual punishment, by excessive use of armed force or by killing the vulnerable and the innocent. The Israeli authorities should realize that the lives of the Palestinian people are not cheaper than those of its own citizens and that shedding Palestinian blood will not bring about peace and security.
The spiral of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories will lead to further tensions and extremism in the Middle East and have a negative impact on international peace and security. The Council should therefore spare no effort to put an end to Israeli violations in Palestinian territory and to stop Israel's systematic breaches of its commitments under international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. We call on the Security Council to explore appropriate options to provide legal protection to the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories, commensurate with the serious nature of the situation, which might pave the way for a just and comprehensive peace following the end of the occupation.
The bloody attacks being committed every day by Israel against the Palestinian people, along with the violation of the sanctity of holy sites and the incursions into Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Haram Al-Sharif, preventing its imams, staff and worshippers from entering the Mosque, are violations of the rights not only of the Palestinian people, but of over a 1.5 billion Muslims throughout the the world, as well as a provocation. Jordan therefore calls for an immediate end to the ongoing and escalating aggressions of Israeli authorities. It also calls for the historic status of the holy city of Jerusalem to be respected and for an end to measures aimed at dividing the Haram Al-Shareef into physical sections and time slots.
Jordan rejects any attempt to infringe upon cultural heritage and religious sites, and we support the decision by President Abbas to investigate the latest torching of Joseph's Tomb. We call for self-restraint and the need to refrain from irresponsible and religiously offensive acts. We condemn in the strongest terms what Israel is doing against the Palestinian people. We consider it fully responsible for the latest escalation.
Jordan will spare no effort in discharging its responsibility in terms of supporting the Palestinian people, putting an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and establishing a viable, free and independent Palestinian State, based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We stress that Christian and Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem, at the forefront of which is Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Haram Al-Sharif, are a red line that cannot be crossed. We will not allow their desecration or profanation.
We therefore reiterate Jordan's total rejection and condemnation of the provocative violations committed by Israel in Al-Aqsa Mosque and on the Haram Al-Sharif, and our full solidarity with the Palestinian people and our absolute commitment to their legal and historic rights in the protection of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Haram Al-Sharif. Based on the historic Hashemite guardianship of His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein over Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem and Jordan's right to look after them. We preserve all possible legal and diplomatic options to defend those sites.
Ms. Power (United States of America): We would like to thank Jordan for convening this emergency session. We are grateful to Assistant Secretary-General Zerihoun for briefing the Council today and for his and the United Nations ongoing efforts in the region.
The United States shares the deep concern of everyone in the Council today about the current situation and condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing violence in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Israel and the Gaza Strip. We have repeatedly condemned the violence and made clear that there is no justification for any terrorist attack. We continue to stress the importance of preventing inflammatory rhetoric, accusations or any actions that can fuel the violence.
The human consequences of the violence have been grave and continue to mount. Since 1 October, Israelis have faced 38 attacks in which at least seven Israelis have been killed and more than 40 injured, some gravely. During the same period, 18 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza by live fire or rubber bullets from Israeli security forces in the course of demonstrations or clashes. According to Israeli authorities, an additional 14 Palestinians have been killed while carrying out attacks or while suspected of attempting to carry them out.
The cycle of violence and mistrust has been exacerbated by viral images and videos shared on social media, which further polarize narratives and foster suspicion and even hatred on both sides. Among Israelis and Palestinians, there is a growing frustration as the prospects of reaching a two-State solution appear to be declining. There is absolutely no justification for reprehensible acts of violence, including terrorist attacks against innocent civilians. We understand that every Government needs to take the necessary steps to protect its people. We continue to support Israel's right to defend its citizens. As always, it is critical that every possible effort be taken to protect innocents, to de-escalate tensions and to guard against unnecessary loss of life. We also reiterate our deep concern about increased Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank.
We mourn the loss of all life, Israeli and Palestinian, and continue to stress the importance of both parties condemning the violence and avoiding provocative statements that can further inflame tensions. In the face of this violence, we remain committed to advancing a two-State solution. Indeed, events right now underscore just how critical it is to achieve two States living side by side in peace and security. To that end, the United States continues to urge all sides publicly and privately to take affirmative steps to restore calm.
We welcome Israel and Jordan's commitment to maintaining the status quo at the Temple Mount and Haram Al-Sharif, and strongly support efforts to ensure that the status quo is maintained. We know Prime Minister Netanyahu's public commitment on that point. United States Secretary Kerry has spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas and King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein in recent days. He will travel to the region at the appropriate moment. As the Middle East Quartet principals meeting on 30 September made clear in their statement, we are concerned that
Mr. Churkin (Russian Federation) (spoke in Russian): The ongoing escalation of the situation in the Palestinian territories, particularly in East Jerusalem, is a matter of great concern to Moscow. It is causing increased suffering among peaceful Israelis and Palestinians, exacerbating the lack of trust between them and reducing the possibility of a political solution. Russia firmly rejects any terrorist manifestation and we again calls on both parties to stop the violence, cease acts of provocation and take immediate measures to de-escalate the situation. Any violent act against peaceful citizens is intolerable and unacceptable.
It is of key importance to normalize the situation around the holy sites in East Jerusalem, which are considered sacred by Jews, Muslims and Christian. At this stage, we must avoid any step that would disrupt the status quo or lead to violent action against either Palestinians or Israelis. A situation that has lasted for decades nevertheless cannot last indefinitely. The holy sites in Jerusalem must be dealt with in a mutually beneficial way. That is possible only through negotiations on all issues relating to Jerusalem and the permanent status of the Palestinian territories.
In calling for immediate steps to reduce the tension, we also note that we need to consider the root cause of what is taking place in the Palestinian territories, which goes back to the 1967 occupation of Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem. It is the dangerous decades-long lack of a proper resolution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians that lies at the root of the current escalation. We cannot turn a blind eye to that fact. Israel, as the occupying Power under the norms of international law, has the primary responsibility for the situation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Until we achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Palestinian problem in the context of an internationally accepted basis for a peaceful settlement, Israel, on the basis of international conventions, must comply with humanitarian principles in its dealings with the populations of the occupied territories.
We are also concerned by the situation in the Gaza Strip. We welcome the steps taken by Israel to simplify the access of necessary supplies into the Strip. But it bears saying that the individual steps taken to attenuate the blockade have not met the main demands of the Security Council and the international community, namely, the complete removal of the blockade and the restoration of control to the central Palestinian authorities over the Strip.
We are ready to continue our efforts, including through the Middle East Quartet of international mediators, in order to de-escalate the situation in Palestinian-Israeli relations. The Quartet's ministerial statement issued in New York on 30 September (SG/2220) called for specific steps to restore mutual trust and a stabilization of the situation so that both peoples can hope for a two-State solution. An important continuation of the Quartet's efforts would have been the trip to Israel and Palestine that was supposed to take place a few days from now but was postponed
at the request of Israel in connection with the recent events. We hope that the planned visit by the Quartet to the region can take place as soon as possible. It is also important to consider organizing a Security Council mission to the Middle East, which the Russian delegation proposed some years ago.
Despite the overall turbulent situation in the whole region and the growth in regional terrorism, the Palestinian-Israeli problem remains the epicentre of the Middle East situation. The fact that it has not been resolved is one of the main factors for the lack of stability in the entire region, That fact continues to shake up the region, which helps extremists to recruit new members to their cause. A renewal of direct talks between Israel and Palestine, on the basis of the two-State solution, would represent a very important contribution to establishing stability in the region and security for the people living there.
In July 2014, Mr. Abbas sent to the Secretary-General a request to place the Palestinian State under the United Nations system of protection. The Security Council soon received a letter from the Secretary-General saying that the matter was under consideration in the Secretariat. As we know, the Secretariat has prepared its study in that regard. We hope that the Secretary-General will officially convey the results of that study to the Council.
Mr. Delattre (France) (spoke in French): I would like to thank Jordan for taking the initiative to convene this meeting, and I would like to thank Mr. Taye-Brook Zerihoun for his briefing.
Over the past few months, France has repeatedly warned of the risks of a new wave of unrest in the Middle East. That is now upon us. Faced with the stepped-up construction of illegal settlements, which daily compromises the viability of a Palestinian State, and in the absence of a peace process, we have acted to draw attention to the urgent need for a lasting political solution to the conflict, which is the only way to avoid a never-ending repetition of the same cycles of violence.
The explosion has now taken place in the West Bank, in Jerusalem and in Gaza, but also in Israel, sowing the fear of a possible third intifada. We have condemned all the attacks, which both confirm our concerns and uphold our position. France would like to renew its appeal for greater mobilization on the part of the international community to restore a genuine political vision. The growing number of crises in the region should not distract us from the urgency of relaunching the peace process, on the contrary.
As Minister Laurent Fabius said yesterday in the French Senate, we must relaunch a credible political process that makes it possible to move towards a just and lasting peace, to genuinely move forward. We cannot continue to let the two-State solution unravel day after day. That is all the more critical in the light of the risk that Daesh could one day take control of the Palestinian cause, with the disastrous consequences that we can imagine.
To that end, we need to work on a number of fronts. First, to begin with what is most urgent, it is the responsibility of the Security Council to respond to the current escalation. France has prepared a draft statement that it would like to submit to the members of the Council aimed at appealing to all parties to show calm and restraint, but also to maintain the status quo on the esplanade of the mosques.
Thereafter, we need to work to provide a concrete political vision. The goal is not simply to manage the crisis, but rather to provide it with a lasting solution. In that regard, the establishment of an international support group would be highly relevant. After bringing the members of the Quartet together here in New York, expanding its format for the first time to include key Arab actors in addition to European and international partners, as France proposed, we believe it is time to enhance those efforts to restore a political vision in order to bring pressure to bear on the parties that will lead them to resume and successfully conclude peace negotiations.
Such a format would make it possible to work on three fronts. First, by introducing confidence-building measures with the effect of immediately easing tensions. Secondly, by offering our collective support to Palestinian reconciliation under the authority of President Mahmoud Abbas. Thirdly, by developing a set of the guarantees and compensation measures that each of the parties will need in order to sign an agreement. France supports the convening of a meeting of the newly expanded Quartet in the near future.
We cannot simply do nothing. We need to mobilize all available means to provide a lasting solution to the conflict. The Security Council has an important role to play in support of those efforts. We need to assume our responsibility. As a friend of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples, France is more determined than ever to play its part and to work tirelessly with its partners in the service of peace.
Mr. Liu Jieyi (China) (spoke in Chinese): I would like to thank Jordan for convening this meeting on behalf of the Arab Group, and Assistant Secretary-General Zerihoun for his briefing.
Recently, the conflict between Palestine and Israel has further escalated, leading to a worsening security situation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. China is deeply worried about that development. We are concerned about the military crackdowns by Israeli forces, which have led to Palestinian civilian casualties, including women and children. The excessive use of force, which causes casualties among innocent civilians, is unacceptable. Returning violence for violence does not help resolve issues; instead, it will only erode mutual trust and exacerbate conflict and confrontation. China urges both Palestine and Israel to heed the calls of the international community to exercise maximum restraint and to take practical measures to avoid further escalation of the conflict.
China welcomes the efforts by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to de-escalate the tensions between Palestine and Israel. In the present circumstances, the international community, in particular the Security Council, should have a stronger sense of urgency. It should assume its responsibility, actively respond to the legitimate demands of Palestine and the Arab countries, take the necessary action and promote efforts by the parties concerned to immediately cease their clashes and de-escalate tensions.
Achieving peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel is the right direction to take in order to resolve the Palestine-Israel question. Peace talks are the only path forward. We hope that the Israeli Government will take the lead in taking action in a spirit of good faith.
The legitimate security concerns of the countries of the region should be taken into account. The international community should make concerted efforts to promote the quick resumption of talks by Palestine and Israel on a broad-based platform, with the direct participation of all major players, so as to resolve the deep-rooted issues in bilateral relations.
China has been consistent in its support for the just cause of the Palestinian people, who aspire to the restoration of their legitimate national rights. We are committed, as always, to the promotion of peace talks. We stand ready to continue to maintain contact and coordination with the parties concerned, to make unremitting efforts to ease the tensions between Palestine and Israel and to promote the resumption of talks.
Mr. Van Bohemen (New Zealand): We thank Jordan for having convened today's meeting and thank Assistant Secretary-General Zerihoun for his briefing.
New Zealand is deeply concerned at the recent violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, of which the attempted arson at Joseph's Tomb is the latest example. In the short term, all sides need to cease the violence, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and uphold unchanged the historic status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites. It is critically important to stop the violence and lower tensions.
We recognize that every State needs to protect its citizens. However, we agree with the Assistant Secretary-General that heavy-handed security measures will not resolve this growing crisis. Unless the parties and the international community address the root causes of the violence, we will see it happen again and again. For each side to heap blame and allegations on the other while ignoring or minimizing its own responsibilities will only make things worse.
In New Zealand's view, there is an urgent need for progress towards securing a viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and towards the economic and social stability that such a solution promises. That is the only way to put an end to the violence. As my Prime Minister and Foreign Minister said in New York two weeks ago (see A/70/PV.23), this is a matter of urgency and a critical issue on which the Security Council must lead.
We believe that the Security Council has a role to play to generate conditions on the ground that are conducive to negotiations towards a two-State solution. We believe that the Council also has a role to play: to tell the parties clearly and firmly to get ready to negotiate and to provide them with a time frame for commencing negotiations.
We look forward to discussing our ideas and those of others at the open debate next week, which we think should focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That debate should also be used by Council members and others as an opportunity to advance the conversation on what the international community can to do bring the two sides together. The conflict has continued for far too long and resulted in far too many innocent people being killed.
We are supportive of the idea of a Council statement, as the representative of France has just suggested, and we look forward to engaging on the text. A statement alone, however, does not obviate the need for Council action through a resolution or another product to move the peace process forward. New Zealand remains convinced that the Council must address this bigger picture, and recent events have demonstrated the urgency of doing so.
Mr. Ibrahim (Malaysia): I wish to thank you, Mr. President, for having convened this urgent and important meeting. I also thank Assistant Secretary-General Zerihoun for his briefing.
Malaysia is gravely concerned at the provocations and escalating violence in and around the holy sites of the Old City of Jerusalem. We condemn in the strongest terms any and all attempts to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem. Such sinister attempts are in blatant violation of numerous Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. We strongly condemn all such acts of provocation, incitement and violence at the holy sites by all sides, which only fuel tensions and exacerbate the deteriorating security situation on the ground. We strongly urge all parties to exercise restraint and uphold respect for the sanctity of the holy sites.
It should come as no surprise that this unresolved situation has culminated in the current outbreak of violence and the resulting death and destruction. Time and again, the Council has been warned about the ticking time bomb in occupied Palestine, and the Palestinian people are growing increasingly desperate at being dehumanized and suffering often-daily humiliations, oppression and mistreatment under the longest occupation in modern history. Yet time and again, the Council has done nothing.
In the General Assembly, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, as well as the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, have diligently reported on the various atrocities and grave violations of human rights committed by the occupying Power year after year for decades, without any effective measures being taken to address that grave injustice. This has further emboldened the occupying Power to conduct itself with greater impunity and more repressive policies.
In the mainstream media, we see only a ludicrously one-sided, hugely distorted narrative to explain the current situation: that of Palestinian terrorists trying to kill and injure as many peace-loving Israelis as possible. We do not see reports of the arbitrary killings and the illegal targeting of children and women by the Israeli forces and the settlers. We do not read about the daily humiliations and mistreatment suffered by the Palestinians at the hands of the occupying force. We do not even hear the words “occupation” or “self-determination” mentioned anywhere in the mainstream media to provide the proper context, and we do not apply the same standard of human rights in Palestine and Israel as we preach elsewhere globally.
Is it really surprising, then, that the subjugated and oppressed choose to fight the illegal occupier for the legitimate right to freedom and self-determination, since for far too long, all other legal, economic, political, diplomatic and media channels have been systematically and exhaustively blocked?
Each time a cycle of violence erupts, countless innocent people, including women and children, are tragically killed, injured or traumatized, and the international community, particularly the Security Council, shares the blame for having allowed the situation to persist with impunity. Enough is enough. In shouldering its Charter responsibility to maintain international peace and security, Malaysia wishes to unequivocally demand United Nations or international protection for the occupied Palestinian territory. Such United Nations protection would prevent the continuing massacres and gross violations of human rights in occupied Palestinian territory. It would also benefit the Israelis by addressing their security concerns.
The call for United Nations protection, in line with international humanitarian law, particularly the Geneva Conventions, would ensure accountability for all parties to the conflict and enforce or monitor adherence to international law, international human rights law and various General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, so as to maintain peace and security in the occupied territory. Such protection has numerous precedents in United Nations history, including in Kosovo, East Timor, Lebanon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and even in Palestine itself. The Council must not delay discussions on the proposal, and Malaysia looks forward to working closely with the Secretary-General and other Council members in this regard.
In noting the statement made by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation on the reinvigorated role of the Quartet and its expanded format, we underscore the importance of its engagement within the Council.
In calling for United Nations protection to address the current crisis, we must not lose sight of the long-term need for a final and comprehensive solution to the conflict. Seventy years after the failure to grant self-determination to the Palestinian people, the international community has lost any pretext for a legitimate excuse to further perpetuate the Israeli occupation. Delays in addressing the root causes of the conflict attributed to looming elections, ineffectual Quartet meetings and half-hearted bilateral initiatives begin to appear as façades to prolong the occupation and to deny justice, dignity and freedom to the Palestinian people.
Meanwhile, illegal Israeli settlements continue to expand, giving rise to questions about the sincerity of Israel's commitment to the two-State solution. In the first half of this year alone, the number of settler homes built in the West Bank increased by 54.8 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Against the backdrop of decades of impunity, illegal Israeli policies and practices and systematic dehumanization of Palestinians, we are seeing an unacceptable increase in terrorist attacks by extremist Israeli settlers. We cannot deny that the continuing and unjust occupation of Palestine is a powerful rallying point worldwide that further fuels radicalism and extremism due to the obstruction of peaceful legal and diplomatic means of resistance.
Malaysia stresses the need for the Council to act urgently in the light of the deteriorating situation on the ground, address the root causes of the conflict and finally put an end to the longest occupation in modern history. If we continue to turn a blind eye to the problem, there is no doubt that we will pay a much higher price in the future, which will not be in the long-term interest of Palestine, Israel and the world.
Mr. Cherif (Chad) (spoke in French): I thank Jordan for the initiative of calling for this public meeting and the Spanish presidency for having convened it immediately afterwards. I also thank Mr. Taye-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, for his briefing.
Chad is deeply concerned about the outbreak of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in East Jerusalem, provoked by the recent incursions by extremist settler groups on the esplanade of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Indeed, these incursions have led to a series of legitimate angry protests against the endless Israeli occupation, the indiscriminate acts of repression and the constant humiliation of Palestinian civilians.
We strongly condemn all violence from any quarter against innocent civilians. The increasingly growing number of reported civilian casualties, including children and women, since the beginning of October reflects the extent of violence in the occupied territories, particularly in the city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif. These acts of repression are unacceptable and constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Given this situation, the international community and especially the Security Council must assume their responsibilities without hesitation by taking appropriate measures to ensure the protection of Palestinian civilians. The Security Council must act urgently to end these serious violations and ensure that the provocations of extremist settlers aggravating the situation, including recurrent desecrations of holy places, are not repeated. The international community must not accept any of the horrors that Palestinians have to suffer every day. And the occupying Power should not benefit from total impunity for serious violations that it continues to commit vis-à-vis innocent civilians.
This new deterioration of the situation underscores the urgent need to relaunch the political process on new bases in order to put an end to endless negotiations that are currently deadlocked and make the two-State solution a tangible reality. In this regard, the Security Council must get more involved if the solution of two States living side by side in peace and mutual respect is to be saved. The parameters of the two-State solution are known to all and should in no way be called into question under any circumstances.
In this context, we call on both parties to work harder to calm the situation and to put confidence-building measures in place. Accordingly, Israel must freeze settlement construction and stop attacks against civilians, incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the demolition of housing and the forced displacement of Palestinians.
In conclusion, we reiterate our firm conviction that the two-State solution alone is the fairest and most realistic option and that it could allow Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security.
Mr. Rycroft (United Kingdom): We thank you, Mr. President, for convening today's emergency meeting, and we thank Jordan for requesting it. We also thank Assistant Secretary-General Zerihoun for his briefing.
It is vital that the Security Council respond urgently and effectively to escalating situations such as the one we are witnessing in Jerusalem and elsewhere. The British Government is deeply concerned at the terrorist attacks and violence that we seen so far this month, be it in Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza or Israel, whether it has been committed by Israelis or Palestinians. The British Government condemns all acts of terrorism and all acts of violence.
As others have said, this violence is doing untold damage to people on both sides. So far this month, 7 Israelis and 32 Palestinians have been killed. Over 4,400 people have been injured, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society. These figures should give us all cause for grave concern. The immediate priority must be a swift end to the violence and a rapid de-escalation in tension. I am pleased that Council members have sent this clear and unambiguous message today.
The Israeli and Palestinian peoples deserve to live in peace and security without fear of attack. Those breaking the law on either side should be subject to prosecution. Innocent civilians must be protected. Let us all call on the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions and avoid any action that could threaten to exacerbate the situation.
The current violence began following the heightened tension we saw last month around Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount. This is a sombre reminder of the delicate balance in Jerusalem and the need to respect sensitivities over so holy sites. It is vital that the long-standing status quo in respect of access to Haram Al-Sharif — the Temple Mount — and other historic sites is preserved. The British Government remains in close touch with the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian authorities on this point, and we value Jordan's important role as custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem. We have stressed that security restrictions must be lifted immediately. We will continue with these calls and hope other Council members will join us.
If we are to find a long-term solution to this crisis, the Israeli and Palestinian people need to believe, really believe, that there is an alternative to conflict. The current cycle of violence points to a much deeper despair at the lack of prospects for a political end to the conflict, one that sees two States living side by side in peace and security. The violence takes us further away from that goal. The political leaders on all sides — and the Council — must make clear that the two-State solution is not desirable but essential. There is a urgent need for practical improvements on the ground if we are to sustain the viability of the two-State solution and deliver peace, prosperity and security for all.
As ever, the United Kingdom stands ready to work closely with the Council and our other international partners to address the current crisis, through private diplomacy, statements, resolutions and any other route that can help achieve a meaningful, lasting solution. Such a solution is long overdue. Next week marks the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations. For 68 of the past 70 years, the United Nations has been trying to find the answer to the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. We must keep striving to achieve a two-State solution. The alternative is the violence and despair that we are addressing today.
Mr. Barros Melet (Chile) (spoke in Spanish): We would like to thank the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs for his briefing and the Kingdom of Jordan for requesting this meeting.
We firmly condemn the series of attacks and clashes in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in recent weeks that have killed and wounded both Israelis and Palestinians. Such acts of extreme violence testify to a polarized atmosphere whose tension must be reduced. Chile appeals urgently to the Israeli and Palestinian authorities to act in ways conducive to peace. In that regard, we feel it is important to insist on the importance of respecting the agreements and established practice concerning the use of and access to the Temple Mount. The continuing policies of expanding settlements are helping to undermine every effort to reach a rapprochement and dialogue, and we are also concerned about actions on the part of the authorities that violate minimum standards of procedure and the right to fair and dignified treatment.
We continue to maintain that a two-State solution is the alternative that has the greatest potential for enabling the peoples of both countries to live in peace. We reiterate our conviction that it is impossible to continue to pursue a negotiating process that rejects Palestine's aspiration to exercise its right to self-determination and denies Israel the necessary safeguards for its people. If peace is to be achieved, reopening the dialogue is a challenge that must be tackled. The Council must contribute to that, and it has a responsibility to help to create conditions that can foster trust between the parties.
We believe it is crucial to ensure that the international community, and the Security Council in particular, sends a signal in support of initiatives that can pave the way for a peace process based on specific parameters and a definite timetable. In that regard, we will support proposals aimed at arriving at a basis for a consensus that can advance the peace process.
Mr. Ramirez Carreno (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) (spoke in Spanish): I thank you, Mr. President, for convening this important meeting on the subject of Palestine. We are also grateful for the briefing by Assistant Secretary-General Taye-Brook Zerihoun.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela continues to be very concerned about and firmly condemns the violent situation in Palestine. However, we want to point out that the new cycle of violence affecting the occupied territories is not the result of Palestinian attacks on Israelis or of Israelis on Palestinians; it is the product of a prolonged illegal occupation for nearly 70 years, during which the Palestinian people have been denied their human rights and their right to self-determination.
It is regrettable that the United Nations has been considering the Palestinian question almost since its founding without ever reaching a political solution to that bloody conflict. That fact should weigh on everyone's conscience, particularly those entities who wield decision-making power in the Security Council and have blocked the way to a political solution, resulting in thousands of victims, including refugees in neighbouring countries who are denied the right of return.
Israel, the occupying Power, pursues its policy of denying the Palestinian people their right to self-determination and a sovereign and independent State. As long as they are deprived of their rights, we will continue to see the repeated cycles of violence that only produce more victims among the civilian population and increase the bitterness, pain and frustration of young Palestinians, one of the main elements fuelling the extremist groups that are currently ravaging several countries in the region.
Israel's strategy is clear. It wishes to provoke Palestinians into launching cycles of violence to which Israel responds in a brutal and disproportionate way that continues to oppress the Palestinian people, through its unending settlement process. For that reason, we condemn Israel's aggressions of the past week, which tragically left 34 people dead, most of them young people aged between 11 and 22, and more than 1,400 injured. We also condemn the recent demolitions of houses that Israel has carried out in the occupied territory of the West Bank, leaving hundreds of families homeless, most of them children, who are now refugees. Such acts are part of a deliberate process of colonization and expulsion by Israel, an illegal practice that so far no one has put a stop to.
We echo the recent denunciation by the Palestinian Red Crescent stating that Israeli forces have deliberately attacked ambulances and medical and nursing staff more than 53 times, resulting in many casualties. Such attacks have also destroyed 20 ambulances, in contravention of international humanitarian and human rights law. And the outrage does not end there, for the same report notes that more than 24 ambulances carrying casualties were blocked on their way to hospitals, an illustration of the Israeli Government's deliberate policy designed to exacerbate the suffering it has inflicted during the past seven decades of illegal occupation.
We condemn the attacks on holy places by settlers and the Israel Defense Forces, such as those on the Palestinian population attending the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. These recurring acts violate the agreement between Israel and the Hashemite King of Jordan in his capacity as custodian of the holy sites of East Jerusalem.
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is also part of this bleak scenario. The brutal blockade that its inhabitants are subjected to shrinks its capacity for economic and social development. The lack of opportunity and the vacuum created by Israel's relentless policies should be a matter of concern for the Council and the international community. Israel's aim is clear — it wants to divide the Palestinians and render the existence of a Palestinian State impossible. The world continues to be shocked by the devastating effects of Operation Protective Edge, whose indiscriminate attacks on civilians killed more than 500 children and left thousands more injured and some who are still hospitalized, many of them with a stunted future and no immediate hope of being able to resume their lives and build a promising life. Humanitarian organizations in Gaza continue to report cases of children with severe psychological trauma that persists despite the attention and care they receive in health centres. Israel's brutal campaign of assassination, persecution and incarceration of Palestinian children — I am talking about children, not just men and women — is deplorable and unacceptable, an act of brutality against innocents that constitutes an act of State terrorism, a crime of war and a crime against humanity for which its perpetrators must be made accountable before an international tribunal.
It is quite paradoxical to note that, as the Quartet is deploying its good offices to initiate peace talks, the Israeli Government should unleash this new wave of repression through generalized violence that hinders the path towards a fair and lasting peace. We call on the Security Council to take a position as soon as possible, that it demand that Israel put an end to this new cycle of violence and that it place the Palestinian population under international protection, in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention and resolution 904 (1994). We must renew our support for the Palestinians' appeal that the life of their citizens be protected against the continuing and systematic violence and attacks by the occupying Power.
The despair that overwhelms Palestinian youth on account of no political solution to the illegal occupation being found is irrefutably demonstrates the need to achieve a negotiated and inclusive political settlement. Recurrent actions by Israel form part of a deliberate strategy to deny the Palestinian population the right to an independent State, since violence justifies its objectives of expansion and domination.
Venezuela reaffirms its full support for the right to self-determination for the nationals of the State of Palestine, who should be able to live within internationally recognized borders, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. The hoisting of the flag of the Palestinian State at the seventieth session of the General Assembly is evidence of the commitment of the overwhelming majority of the States Members of the Organization to upholding the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
In conclusion, we should like to say that we support all initiatives aimed at finding a permanent solution to this conflict. It is vital that the Security Council act promptly and urgently to give a new impetus to the negotiations, taking into account the fact that the non-resolution of this problem seriously jeopardizes peace, security and stability in the Middle East. The Council should assume its responsibilities. It should focus on resolving this very serious issue, which is a threat to international peace and security. We must act in an honest manner if we, in the Security Council, really believe in a two-State solution. The Council has the authority to recommend that Palestine be accepted within the United Nations as a fully fledged State. Palestine needs to exist as a fully fledged State, on the basis of a two-State solution.
The Security Council should issue a presidential statement condemning the Israeli violence and calling upon the Israeli Government to stop its violence and profanation of holy sites, and it should adopt a resolution calling for a sustained peace process. We are convinced that the Council can and must take specific and urgent action to assist Palestine and its people. It must break the deadlock. By doing so it would be be taking a courageous step forward— a step towards negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
Mrs. Ogwu (Nigeria): I want to thank you, Mr. President, for convening this emergency meeting. I also want to thank Assistant Secretary-General Zerihoun for his very sombre briefing.
All peoples and nations of goodwill acknowledge that the current surge in violence and killings in Jerusalem has become a potent threat to international peace and security. What began as clashes around the holy sites has spilled into residential neighbourhoods and the West Bank, with a rising death toll. That carnage is complicating an already difficult situation. We condemn the killings in unequivocal terms, and call for calm on both sides. The parties must exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and preserve the status quo at the holy sites.
he indication at this time is that the root causes of the violence must be addressed urgently and comprehensively within the framework of a negotiated political solution. Genuine efforts must be made to restart the peace process. Both sides must work to create the conditions that would facilitate that process. In that context, we want to urge the Israeli authorities to put an immediate cessation to settlement construction in the occupied Palestinian territory. That is not only illegal under international law, it constitutes a major impediment to the search for a lasting peace. We call on regional leaders and other States with influence over the parties to encourage them to resume negotiations on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions, the Quartet road map, the Madrid principles, the Arab Peace Initiative and relative agreements between them.
In this conflict the two-State solution is inescapable and, indeed, inevitable. We take this opportunity to reaffirm our support for a two-State solution, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security.
Mr. Lucas (Angola): We thank Jordan for convening this meeting and the Assistant Secretary-General for his briefing on the situation in Israel and Palestine. In the open debate to take place here next week, we will address at length the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Today we want to highlight our extreme alarm at the escalating situation and loss of civilian life in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories, including the actions by extremists at religious sites in Jerusalem.
We believe that the current state of affairs is due to the Palestinian people's hopelessness and despair for the historic injustice imposed upon them, as well as to the Israeli Government and settlers' harsh and unacceptable actions and the international community's failure to make any meaningful contribution to a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The current violence is deplorable. We urge all involved to avoid such actions, which merely serve the purposes of extremist elements on both sides. At yesterday's press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Netyanahu stated his readiness to engage in negotiations without preconditions. It is our hope that such negotiations will take place and that their basis will be just and acceptable to the Palestinian leadership.
Recent developments in the Middle East are a cause for great concern. If the surge in violence between Israelis and Palestinians gets worse, the ramifications could be disastrous for the whole region. We strongly appeal to both sides to disown the extremist elements within their ranks and to reinforce political dialogue. At this time, it is especially important for religious and community leaders to increase their interaction with a view to promoting peace and reconciliation. The main responsibility of the Security Council should be to set a course to revive the peace process, and strive to adopt a resolution that sets parameters for negotiations and a framework for a final status agreement. It is imperative that we reinvigorate the peace process in order to end the occupation and achieve a just and lasting solution on the basis of two States living side by side in peace and security, a quest, which, unfortunately, with the accomplished facts on the ground and the expanding settlements, seems increasingly to be mere rhetoric.
Finally, we are ready to consider the draft statement that France will submit to the Council, in the expectation that it will have some effect on the situation on the ground.
Ms. Murmokait6 (Lithuania): The latest dangerous escalation of the situation in the wider Middle East region once again shows us the importance of the Middle East peace process. Lithuania is extremely concerned about the continuing wave of violence and killings in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. We strongly condemn the acts of violence committed by all parties, and express our sincere condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones in this deadly cycle of violence.
Respect for international law, including international human rights and international humanitarian law, is paramount. It is essential to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric and to uphold the historic status quo at the holy sites, including the Haram Al-Sharif/Temple Mount. The Israeli and Palestinian authorities have the responsibility to restrain inflammatory rhetoric, prevent the spread of hatred, and immediately take all necessary measures to end the violence and restart reconciliation between the two communities.
We urge both sides to commit themselves to the path of negotiation and to seek new incentives to reinvigorate the peace process without delay. Incitement and revenge will only bring more revenge, leading to more grief instead of useful solutions. The task of the international community is to remain firm in insisting that both parties commit themselves to peace and dialogue. Real and concrete actions must be taken now. We call on both, and in particular Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, to do everything in their power to stop the violence and take all measures necessary to protect the civilian population.
During the extended Quartet meeting two weeks ago, my Minister called on the international community to help the parties to overcome their mistrust. Step by step, they should relearn to walk together. It is important for the parties to accept that an all-or-nothing approach will achieve neither a solution, nor peace nor security. The mediation role of the United States remains crucial. The Quartet can and should contribute actively to this process. Lithuania remains strongly committed to a negotiated two-State solution of a sovereign, independent and contiguous State of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace, security and mutual recognition.
The President (spoke in Spanish): I shall now make a statement in my national capacity.
I should like first to thank the delegation of Jordan for having requested the urgent convening of this meeting. I also thank Assistant Secretary-General Zerihoun for his briefing today.
At the outset, I express Spain's deepest concern over the extremely serious situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel. We profoundly regret the loss of human life and strongly condemn the violence, including acts of terrorism. In the face of this spiral of violence, we cannot limit ourselves to considering the immediate triggers; we need to look into its underlying causes, undoubtedly including the political vacuum. It is an urgent priority to maintain the status quo on the esplanade of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, take measures to ensure its preservation and enforce compliance with the agreements establishing the status quo. We cannot allow extremists to play the lead role. Jerusalem is a holy city for Muslims, Jews and Christians and should not be exploited by extremist elements for militant ends.
The international community should issue that appeal unanimously and clearly. Spain greatly values the role being played by Jordan to that end, and we trust that a constructive dialogue with Israel will contribute to restoring stability in the framework of the management arrangement agreed decades ago. Jerusalem must serve as the capital of both States, and it is critical to preserve the spirit of tolerance that enables coexistence there.
How can the international community and the Security Council contribute effectively to ending the violence and averting wider escalation? Very little or nothing can be done without the necessary commitment of the interested parties. That is why the role of political and community leaders in restoring calm and containing animosity is essential. We therefore hope to see a greater effort of moderation on the part of political leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to prevent a further exacerbation of the situation. Cooperation on security issues must be maintained.
Alongside the appeal for moderation, we must avoid acts of incitement and the excessive use of force in response so that the repression of violence does not aggravate it. The international community should also seek to protect lives and promote security. To that end, we must consider the formulas or goals that could serve objective — obviously, with the support of the parties and help them to meet their responsibilities. It would be a good idea for the Security Council to receive the legal report being drafted by the Office of Legal Affairs to explain the options available for the adequate protection of the Palestinians.
However, no appeal to calm, no strategy of moderation and no attempt to maintain the status quo will halt the current or any future escalation of violence in the region unless the parties are committed towards a political endgame. That is an orientation for which the support of the Security Council and the international community is essential. The situation is critical; we would not be meeting here today if it were not. The Security Council cannot limit itself merely to listening to responses and making yet further appeals for non-violence and restraint.
The time has come for the major issues that have remained outstanding since the Oslo agreements to be put on the table once again and for the Council to promote the relaunching of a true peace process in the Middle East. We are all aware that Spain's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation will preside next week over an open debate of the Council on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Spain has always believed that this issue must be debated at the highest possible level, and has therefore encouraged participation in the debate at the ministerial level. We do so again today. The serious events of the past few weeks fully justify the need for such a debate.
Spain feels that the Quartet must remain active. Together with France and Malaysia, we believe that another meeting in a broader format would provide valuable elements for the debate on 22 October. Perhaps the expanded Quartet could be preceded by a meeting of the regular Quartet, as requested by the Russian Federation. We need to consider creating political prospects that will allow us to make significant progress towards the two-State solution, which appears increasingly fragile. Without a prospect of peace; without the possibility of moving towards the existence of two sovereign living side by side in peace; without a path leading to an end to the occupation and to regional normalization, it will be difficult to stop the violence and to establish peaceful coexistence.
I now resume my functions as President of the Security Council.
There are no more names inscribed on the list of speakers. I invite Council members to informal consultations to continue our discussion on the subject.
The meeting rose at 1 p.m.