The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question - Statement by Iceland
The Permanent Mission of Iceland
to the United Nations
H.E. Ambassador Gréta Gunnarsdóttir
The situation in the Middle East,
including the Palestinian question
24 April 2013
During the re-opening of the Security Council Chamber last week, it was noted that this is possibly the most important room in the world.
This is so because of the Council´s responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security according to the UN Charter. It is, however, clear in the case of Syria and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that the Council has not been able to live up to its responsibility. In these two cases the Council has been sidelined due to its own inaction. This does not only reflect negatively on the United Nations and the members of the Security Council, but is bad for world peace.
In this regard Iceland wholeheartedly supports all the sentiments expressed by the leaders of UN Agencies in an article in the New York Times on 15 April where they summed up by saying, and I quote: “Enough! Summon and use your influence, now, to save the Syrian people and save the region from disaster.” unquote. The Council does not have the luxury to wait while Syria is being destroyed in front of our eyes. A political solution has to be found.
This brings me to the unresolved question on Palestine refugees as Palestine refugees are now being uprooted again due to the civil war in Syria. Of the half a million Palestine refugees in Syria there are currently 400.000 refugees in need of humanitarian assistance, approximately 200.000 refugees are displaced within the country and 40,000 have fled to Lebanon where the situation in the Palestinian camps is very difficult to begin with, to say the least. This turn of events should be a wake-up call for the international community on how urgent it is to find a just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestine refugees as called for in General Assembly resolution 194 from 1948. They have been waiting for almost 65 years.
The civil war has also drawn attention to the unresolved question of the occupied Golan which also needs a plan of action from the Security Council in light of developments on the ground.
As there has been no progress in the peace process since the last open debate I will focus on the role of the Security Council and some of the activities taking place in the oPt which clearly demonstrate the dire realities of the occupation and that the situation on the ground is far from being stagnant, unlike the peace process. In this regard we call attention to:
- the deteriorating security situation for the Palestinians with notable increases in fatalities and injuries caused by Israeli forces as well as continued settler´s violence;
- continued and accelerated settlement activities which are illegal according to international humanitarian law and should be stopped altogether; and
- the high number of Palestinian children between the ages of 12-17 who are arrested, interrogated and detained each year by the Israelis, altogether 700 children according to UNICEF, and the fact that there appears to be a pattern of ill treatment during the arrests, transfer and interrogations of child detainees.
Finally, Iceland would like to use this opportunity to urge the Palestinians to reinforce their efforts of reconciliation which is largely in their own power to achieve.
In concluding, Iceland would once again like to reiterate its calls to Security Council to take on a more active role in solving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict considering the extreme asymmetry between the two parties and the need for impartial intervention, including by:
- visiting the State of Palestine;
- reaffirming the illegality of the settlements; and
- accepting the application of the State of Palestine for UN membership in light of the overwhelming support by the UN membership for their inalienable right to self-determination.
And finally, as regards Syria, Iceland would like to reiterate its calls for the Council to:
- refer the situation since March 2011 to the ICC; and
- come to a common position on how to address the civil war in Syria and its humanitarian consequences.
Thank you, Mr. President