The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question - Statement by Iceland
The Peace Process
Iceland firmly supports a peaceful resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the two state solution. Since the Oslo process was launched, almost two decades ago, we have been betting on the peace process to lead to such a result, making a comprehensive peace achievable in the region as a whole as foreseen in the Arab Peace Initiative.
Now, however, the peace process is at a complete standstill. While Iceland urges the parties to return to the negotiating table we feel that the time has come for the international community to become more directly involved. The United Nations had a historic role in the creation of the State of Israel and the time might be approaching where it would be appropriate for the General Assembly and the Security Council to re-engage themselves for the purposes of solving the Palestinian question.
The Role of the International Community
If the Palestinians decide to bring the issue more directly to the General Assembly Iceland stands ready to support them. This was clearly stated by the Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs when he met with President Abbas and Foreign Minister Malki during his to trip to Ramallah earlier this month. Then our Minister stated that Iceland would support a resolution on Palestinian statehood based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital as well as a resolution on full membership of Palestine in the United Nations, should the Palestinians decide to seek such resolutions in the autumn.
Iceland´s position is that the pursuit of recognition of a Palestinian state does not contradict the wish for a negotiatied settlement of the conflict. It might, quite to the contrary, be seen as the means to stimulate serious negotiations. There is a need to address the asymmetry of power between the two parties. That can only be done through a more forceful participation by the international community, including through emphasising the international law applicable to the occupation.
The Situation in Gaza
In the absence of a political solution, the situation on the ground needs to be improved.
First of all we echo those worldwide who urge the Israeli Government to lift the blockade of Gaza immediately. The number of legitimate crossings and established channels, that are currently closed, for goods destined to and from Gaza, should be increased to be able to reach the pre-blockade capacity for imports and exports. The market in steel bars and cement should especially be liberalised by the Israeli authorities.
The decision of the Israeli Government to continue with its settlement activities in the oPt, including in East-Jerusalem, is not only incompatible with its obligations according to international humanitarian law but also the Road Map. We note that this illegal activity continues and the use of violence, house demolitions and forceful evictions in the oPt, including in East Jerusalem, remains a serious concern.
The international community should be careful not to send out messages that can be perceived as accommodating existing illegal settlement activities. Creating facts on the ground, that are contrary to international law as well as an obstacle to achieving a two state solution, should not be rewarded. The settlements are reversible.
Iceland would also like to voice concern over increased settler violence against the Palestinians, including their socalled “Price Tag Policy”. This is a very worrying development and Israel has the obligation to do its utmost to prevent such violence and when it occurs to ensure that those involved are held accountable.
Finally, Iceland welcomes the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas and their intention to form an Interim Government in preparation for presidential and parliamentary elections in Palestine. We urge the Palestinian parties to heed to the calls of their own people to work towards the realization of the agreement and become united in their pursuit of a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Thank you, Mr. President