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On 18 January, in closed consultations, the Council received a briefing from the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordination on the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories under the agenda item entitled “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question”.
The briefing highlighted the humanitarian impact of all settlement activity and the escalation of violence by settlers, as well as the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
Some Council members expressed concern at the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories, especially in the Gaza Strip, and criticized Israeli settlement activities and settler violence. There was also general support for the resumption of direct negotiations between the parties.
On 24 January, the Council held an open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. The Council heard a briefing by the Assistant Secretary-General of the Department of Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco. The Assistant Secretary-General briefed the Council on the latest developments with regard to preparatory talks between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators, specifically the recent meetings between the parties as facilitated by Jordan in coordination with the Quartet. He also informed the Council of the continuing construction of settlements by Israel in the West Bank. He further informed the Council of the developments in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic.
Following the Assistant Secretary-General’s briefing, the Permanent Observer of Palestine, and the Permanent Representative of Israel addressed the Council, stating their respective positions. All members of the Council and representatives of 24 non-member States as well as the representative of the European Union made statements.
Many States that participated in the debate expressed their disappointment with the fact that the peace process remained stalled and supported a return by the parties to direct negotiations. Almost all speakers welcomed the initiative of Jordan in coordination with the Quartet, and expressed the hope that this initiative would be the beginning of serious talks between the parties in line with the Quartet’s statement of 23 September 2011. Some speakers also expressed their support for the application of Palestine for admission to membership in the United Nations. Many States registered their concern at the continuing settlement activity in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, as well as settler violence. Those States called on Israel to stop this practice, as well as home demolitions, evictions and desecration of Palestinian religious sites, and to prosecute settlers who continue to carry out violence against the Palestinians. Some States condemned the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Some States urged Israel to lift without delay the blockade of the Gaza Strip so as to allow space for economic activity in that area. Some States urged the Palestinians to accelerate their unity efforts. Many States condemned the ongoing violence in the Syrian Arab Republic and called for action by the Council.
Statements were also made on behalf of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Non-Aligned Movement, the European Union, the African Group and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.