Statement of Iceland on the situation in the Middle East including the Palestinian question
The Permanent Mission of Iceland
to the United Nations
H.E. Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson
The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question
23 July 2015
The Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations
800 Third Ave. 36th fl. - Tel 212-593-2700. - Fax 212-593-6269
Iceland reiterates its strong conviction that the only path to peace between Israel and Palestine is the two-state solution.
But both sides need to commit fully to the two-state solution – and they must refrain from actions which undermine the viability of the only solution which will bring peace. Israeli leaders have yet to dispel, by actions on the ground, the very serious doubt cast on their commitment to the two state solution during the pre-election period. Indeed, acts on the ground continue to be very damaging to the chances of peace - there is little let-up to expansion of Israeli settlements and the expropriation of land in Palestine – a clear breach of international law. We join others in calling on Israel to immediately stop all settlement activities.
Of continuing deep concern is the humanitarian situation of the Palestinians particularly in Gaza – where we continue to call for the lifting of the blockade. The cycle of violence has to be broken which calls for different approaches by all concerned. In this regard we welcome the report by the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict.
The situation in the rest of the oPt, including East Jerusalem, is also of deep concern. The continued fragmentation of Palestine through settlement activities and movement and access restrictions, undermine Palestinian livelihoods and deprive them of basic human rights. Israel needs to abide by international humanitarian law and human rights law, including ceasing demolition of Palestinian homes and displacing Palestinians from their land.
Predictably, the highly abnormal living conditions in the oPt have a disproportionate impact on women and children. We commend the work of the UN agencies against gender based violence. The Mehwar Centre for Protection and Empowerment of Women and families, supported by UN WOMEN, and to which Iceland has contributed, does excellent and much needed work in the West Bank. Ensuring equal participation of women at all decision making levels on both sides of the conflict and within the international community, is also key to durable peace and reconciliation. Unfortunately the absence of women in the peace process has been noticeable. This has to change.
Terrorist activity from Palestinian elements is also totally unacceptable and can only undermine peace. We condemn all acts of violence against civilians. The safety and well-being of civilians must always be ensured.
The recent report by the High Level Panel on Peace operations underlines the primacy of politics in maintaining and achieving peace. Managing a crisis is not enough – the aim must be to solve it. There is consensus on the urgency. There are signs in both communities of loss of faith in the possibility of a peaceful solution. It is therefore essential that the Security Council creates a clear frame for ending the occupation and establishing a durable peace with two states living side by side in peace and security. The dangers of inaction are far greater for all parties involved than the risks of action.
Thank you, Mr. President