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
12 July 2016
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Allow me to thank the Japanese Presidency of the Security Council for organizing this quarterly debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.
The Middle East region remains steeped in conflict and crisis. Despite determined efforts by the international community, the suffering of millions of civilians continues. Neighbouring countries to the conflicts continue to be severely impacted.
Among the intractable problems facing the region, the Israel/Palestine conflict should be soluble. But actions by both sides have continued to undermine the only viable path to peace, the two-state solution.
We welcome the Quartet report which gives a clear description of the principal threats to achieving a negotiated peace in the form of a two-state solution. Violence and incitement to violence on both sides receive due attention. The wave of violent acts against ordinary Israelis, settler violence against Palestinians, rocket attacks from Gaza and disproportionate security action by Israeli forces all widen the gulf that will need to be bridged.
It also describes the detrimental effects of settlement expansion, land designations for exclusive Israeli use and denial of Palestinian development and demolitions of Palestinian structures and urges Israel to implement positive and significant policy shifts, including transferring powers and responsibilities in Area C.
We welcome the initiative by France to assist in finding a way for the parties to the Israel/Palestine conflict towards peace as well as France’s offer to coordinate an international conference before the end of the year.
The Quartet report provides a basis for action, first of all by the parties to the conflict. The ten recommendations are addressed mainly to them. But the report also provides a basis for concerted action by the Security Council. The report calls upon each side to independently demonstrate, through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution. But breeches of commitments has been on-going. There is an opportunity for the Security Council to back up the recommendations of the Quartet with clear instructions to the parties. It is time that the SC puts its weight behind the Quartet conclusions that “continuing on the current course will make the [two-state solution] increasingly remote”. The alternative is “entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict that is incompatible with realising the national aspirations of both peoples..”
We encourage the Security Council to take action and to back the recommendations of the Quartet by resolution. We also join in encouraging the parties to foster a climate of tolerance that can strengthen the foundations for peace and counters violent extremism.