The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question - Statement of Iceland
Mr. Jón Erlingur Jónasson
Deputy Permanent Representative
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
29 April 2014
'The best thing is when you pass out, because then the pain stops.' This is a quote from a University student in Hama in a report by the High Commissioner of Human Rights on the large scale practice of torture in Syria. No one should ever have to experience anything like this.
The violations committed in this conflict against the civilian population, including children, are horrific and incomprehensible. Nobody who commits such violations can expect to escape accountability. We continue to call on the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
We strongly support the Geneva process and a political solution to the crisis in Syria. However, the Security Council must also exercise its leadership role in fostering a political and peaceful solution. The parties have demonstrated that they are not willing to lay down arms without international action and the Council has yet to demonstrate that it is doing all in its power to prevent further human tragedy. Considering the serious consequences for regional peace and security, please take action.
The Government of Syria along with all other parties to the conflict must abide strictly by international humanitarian and human rights law, including by affording immediate access to humanitarian assistance to ease the suffering of civilians. This is not a choice, it is an obligation. It is unacceptable that people are starving like the world witnessed in Yarmouk.
We would like to use this opportunity to commend all those who have been working under the extremely challenging circumstances in Syria to provide humanitarian assistance to the population, including OCHA, UNHCR and UNRWA.
The Palestinian Question
The peace process has come to a standstill. We applaud Secretary of State Kerry for his direct involvement and dedication for the past few months and sincerely hope that the parties will return to the negotiating table.
We all know, however, that a process in itself is not the aim. A process is only a means to an end which is to reach an agreement on all final status issues, most importantly leading to the end of the occupation and resulting in two states living side by side in peace and security. If negotiations do not resume soon the Security Council will have to revert its attention to the conflict and become actively engaged in finding a peaceful settlement.
While the peace process has come to a standstill the same cannot be said about the situation on the ground in the oPt, including East Jerusalem. Settlement activities have accelerated since direct negotiations started last year. Palestinian property rights also continue to be violated by making it almost impossible to acquire building permits and by restricting access to their land. Settler violence also continues unabated.
With this in mind we call upon Israel, the occupying power, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights law. This entails ceasing all settlement activities and preventing provocations around the holy sites in Jerusalem, with the understanding that all such provocations can have far-reaching consequences on peace and security in the region far beyond Israel and the State of Palestine.
Finally, we welcome the recent reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. This will hopefully lead to a unified approach to a peaceful settlement with Israel. However, any unity government that emerges from the deal should uphold the principle of non-violence, remain committed to achieving a two state solution and to a negotiated peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, accepting previous agreements and obligations, including Israel´s legitimate right to exist. Furthermore, the reconciliation should lead to improved situation on the ground. In this regard, we once more stress the importance of ending the indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza and the lifting of the blockade of Gaza.
We also welcome the accession of the State of Palestine to the main Human Rights treaties for the benefit of the Palestinian population. This step can only strengthen the rule of law.
Thank you, Mr. President