The Permanent Mission of Iceland
to the United Nations
H.E. Ambassador Gréta Gunnarsdóttir
The situation in the Middle East,
Including the Palestinian Question
25 July 2012
The escalation of violence in Syria and the failure of the parties to implement the Annan peace plan, is of grave concern. We were extremely disappointed by the use of veto last week and strongly urge the Council to continue its deliberations with a view to reach a consensus on how best to prevent further conflict in Syria, while at the same time take steps towards permanent peace. These steps must address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people without regard to ethnicity, religion or gender. Ceasefire must be a priority and all violence aimed at the civilian population must be put to an end immediately by all parties.
If nothing is done it might have very far reaching repercussions not only for the Syrian people but for the region as a whole. The number of refugees and internally displaced persons is increasing. This includes a number of Palestine refugees, but Syria is a host to almost half a million Palestine refugees who are registered with UNRWA which will have growing needs for assistance should the conflict continue to deteriorate.
This leads me to the question of Palestine with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict continuing to be the core issue for peace and security in the Middle East.
The situation in Palestine is unfortunately not receiving much international attention at the moment, including by the Security Council. The situation is, however, far from being static. It would be unwise to assume that it can be put on the backburner much longer with developments on the ground continuing to systematically cementing the occupation and seriously undermining the two state solution.
Continued and accelerated settlement activities in the oPt, including East Jerusalem, remain the main obstacle to peace. The settlements are illegal, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. According to the Convention all parties are obliged to ensure respect for the Convention. As a party to the Convention, Iceland calls upon Israel to adhere to its obligations and stop all settlement activities.
Iceland also urges Israel to cooperate with the fact finding team recently appointed by the Human Rights Council to investigate the implications of the settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people in the oPt.
We would like to reiterate our encouragement to the Members of the Security Council to accept the invitation to visit the occupied Palestinian territory at the earliest convenience. Such a visit would demonstrate goodwill and give Council Members the necessary insight to assist them in addressing this longtime problem.
At the moment all avenues continue to seem closed to the Palestinians. That in itself is very serious. There is a need for a breakthrough and under the current circumstances that breakthrough has to come from the international community. There are plenty of avenues to be explored. In particular the international community could send a clear message on the illegality of the settlements activities and demand their immediate halt. Also, it could demand the immediate lifting of the blockade on Gaza, which in itself is a collective punishment and reached its fifth anniversary last month.
The Palestinians continue to look to the UN, especially to the Security Council, to help them realize their right to self-determination. The Security Council should renew its commitment to solve the conflict and inform the rest of the membership on how they intend to proceed.
Iceland fully supports the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and reiterates its call to the Security Council to recommend to the General Assembly that Palestine be accepted as the 194th Member State of the United Nations.
Thank you Mr. President.