The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question - Statement by Iceland
UN Photo / Eskinder Debebe
H.E. Ambassador Gréta Gunnarsdóttir
The situation in the Middle East,
including the Palestinian question
24 January 2012
Let me first turn to the situation in Syria.
Iceland condemns the widespread human rights violations taking place in Syria. We also condemn recent terror attacks in the country. The Syrian authorities must put an immediate end to the violence.
We urge the Syrian Government to heed to the call made by the Secretary-General for a credible, inclusive and legitimate Syrian-led process of comprehensive political change that will address the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people.
We also urge the Security Council to do its utmost to prevent the situation in Syria from escalating and contribute to a solution that will maintain peace and security.
Turning to the question of Palestine, let me at the outset reiterate Iceland’s firm support for the peaceful resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the two state solution. Developments on the ground, such as the ongoing settlement activities in the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, remain the key obstacle to peace. Settlement activities, which are carried out unilaterally by the occupying power and in violation of international humanitarian law, have and continue to create conditions on the ground, that are rapidly making the two state solution unattainable. Time is running out and the Council has to take that into account in its deliberations.
Living under occupation in and of itself creates a security concern for the Palestinians. Settler violence, including their so-called “price tag policy”, has increasingly added an extra concern. According to OCHA the weekly average of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties and property damage has gone up by 40% in 2011 compared to 2010, and by over 165% compared to 2009. At the same time over 90% of monitored complaints regarding settler violence filed by Palestinians with the Israeli police in recent years have been closed without indictment. We call on Israel to shoulder its obligation, under international humanitarian law and human rights law, to prevent attacks against civilians and their property and ensure that all incidents of settler violence are investigated in an impartial and independent manner.
Iceland welcomed the agreement between Fatah and Hamas last spring on reconciliation but we await further steps by the two factions. Presidential and parliamentary elections in Palestine are crucial for bringing Palestine forward and we urge the Palestinian parties to heed to the calls of their own people to work towards the realization of their agreement as soon as possible.
Since I last addressed the Council, my country has formally recognized Palestine as an independent and sovereign state within the pre-1967 borders and established full diplomatic relations with Palestine. I would like to recall that Iceland supported Israel in 1947 when it took its case to the UN and emerged with statehood. Palestinian demands for self-determination and statehood are equally legitimate in our view. In the middle of the democratic revolution, brought on by the fresh breeze of the Arab spring, we cannot deny Palestine her right to statehood, in fact it is long overdue.
Iceland reiterates its appeal to the Members of the Security Council to grab the historical opportunity they have been given to contribute to the realization of the inalienable right of the Palestinian people for self-determination by recommending to the General Assembly that Palestine be accepted as the 194th Member State of the United Nations. There is no contradiction between Palestine seeking membership of the United Nations and the Quartet-led peace process, which we fully support. A UN membership would be an affirmation by UN Member States about our commitment to a two state solution.
Thank you, Mr. President