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I have the honour to transmit herewith the assessment of the work of the Security Council during the presidency of the Argentine Republic in October 2014 (see annex).
I should be grateful if you would have the present letter and its annex circulated as a document of the Security Council.
Annex to the letter dated 22 December 2014 from the Permanent
Representative of Argentina to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council
III. Middle East
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
On 21 October, the Security Council convened its quarterly open debate on the situation in the Middle East. In his briefing to the Council, the Secretary-General said that it was important that the promises made at the Gaza reconstruction conference quickly materialize into concrete assistance on the ground. He mentioned that more than 100,000 residents of Gaza remained homeless, with over 50,000 still sheltering in United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) school buildings. While fully understanding the security threat to Israel from rockets above and tunnels below, the Secretary-General said that the scale of the destruction in Gaza had left deep questions about proportionality and the need for accountability. Recalling meetings held in
Jerusalem, he reiterated his deep concerns about plans to construct residential housing units in occupied East Jerusalem and reaffirmed that international law stated clearly that settlement activity was illegal and ran counter to the pursuit of a two-State solution. He also remained deeply concerned by unilateral actions, restrictions and provocations at the Holy Sites in Jerusalem. The Secretary-General reiterated that there would be no hope for long-term stability in Gaza without addressing the underlying causes of the conflict: an end to the occupation that has ground on for nearly half a century; a full lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip; and effectively addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
On the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, the Secretary-General reaffirmed that the long-term strategic objective of the United Nations in the country remained a political solution based on the Geneva communiqué, and he urged the support of the Security Council for the efforts of his Special Envoy to reduce the suffering of the Syrian people and contribute to a political solution.
Council and non-Council members recognized the results of the Gaza reconstruction conference held in Cairo stressing that reconstruction should be accompanied by measures towards establishing a durable ceasefire that would end the recurring cycle of violence.
Many members expressed concern about deteriorating conditions on the ground. Most condemned the decision of Israel to advance settlement plans in the occupied Palestinian Territories. Some Member States also voiced concern about the tensions at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem in previous weeks, and called on the parties to avoid unilateral steps that undermined prospects for peace. Council and non-Council members warned about the dangerous consequences of the impasse in the peace process and the lack of a political horizon to solve the conflict, and they called for renewed efforts by the international community, including the Security Council. Most participants also addressed the crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic and in Iraq, as well as the situation in Lebanon.
On 29 October, in the light of the deterioration of the situation in Jerusalem, including growing violence and renewed settlement activities, at the request of the delegation of Jordan, the Security Council held a meeting in briefing format.
In his statement to the Council, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, said that the Secretary-General was alarmed by new reports about the advancement of planning for some 1,000 Israeli settlements units in occupied East Jerusalem, which followed Israel’s decision at the end of September to accelerate the process of constructing some 2,600 residential units in Givat Hamatos, also in East Jerusalem. He added that, if pursued, these plans would raise grave doubts about Israel’s commitment to achieving durable peace with the Palestinians, as the new settlements threatened the very viability of the future State of Palestine. He also reported that heightened tensions over unilateral actions, provocations and access restrictions at the Holy Sites in Jerusalem were continuing and the situation remained volatile. He said that the Secretary-General had reiterated the importance of respect for the religious freedom of all, and for worshippers of all faiths to have access to their holy sites, while noting that religious and other leaders should also refrain from making inflammatory statements. In that regard, he noted the reassurances of the Government of Israel that it has no plans to change long-standing policies governing the Holy Sites. Mr. Feltman stressed that ongoing tensions in East Jerusalem and the West could not be separated from the larger reality that remains unresolved and that any enduring peace would require initiating dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict, including an end to the occupation that has lasted close to 50 years and effectively addressing Israel’s legitimate security concerns.
Security Council members expressed their grave concern about the deteriorating situation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, including tensions at the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount compound. Most Council members deplored the continued Israeli settlement expansion and called on all sides to exercise restraint and to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric and for the preservation of the status quo at the Holy Sites.