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
19 October 2016
The Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations
800 Third Ave. 36th fl. - Tel 212-593-2700. - Fax 212-593-6269
Allow me to thank the Russian 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 faces massive challenges amid conflict and crisis. The epicenters of conflict – Syria, Yemen, Libya – impact severely on neighboring countries. The fall-out from these conflicts testifies to the staggering costs the whole world incurs when there is a failure of conflict prevention and conflict resolution. And of course, the costs are most brutal for the civilians living in the conflict zones. The continued targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, particularly medical facilities is completely unacceptable – impunity must not be allowed to stand.
Yet there is one conflict in the region which should be amenable to resolution and where preventing further conflict should be possible. Indeed, the outline of a viable peace plan has been on the table for years. The two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict is the only viable peace-plan that will allow both nations to live side-by-side in peace. Yet both parties to the conflict seem, at times, hell-bent on tearing this plan up.
Of great concern is the Israeli Government’s continuing settlement policy. At the Arria formula meeting on settlements last week we again heard convincing evidence that Israeli government policy over time is having the effect, intended or not, of making it impossible for a contiguous Palestinian State to emerge. Settlement expansion and destruction of Palestinian structures undermine the basis for peace.
We would encourage Palestinian leaders to do all in their power to reduce tension and avoid provocation. Violent acts against Israeli citizens and the firing of rockets into Israel are totally unacceptable. We urge Palestinian leaders to work to unite the people of Palestine under a democratic government. Elections need to be held and the different factions need to come together.
The two-state solution is in danger of slipping from our grasp. Right now, damage control is a priority.
The Quartet report of earlier this year is clear on the minimum actions required of both parties to safeguard the two-state solution. It is time the Security Council gave some real weight to its exhortations.
Leaders on both sides bear the heaviest responsibility to guide their people in the direction of peace. At the same time we welcome the efforts of France to establish an international forum in which peace can be discussed.
The Israel/Palestine situation is bad. But it could get much worse. We urge this Council to bring its powers of encouragement and coercion to bear on the two parties to the conflict. This Council needs to act to protect the two-state solution.