Miðausturlönd - Ræða Íslands

The Permanent Mission of Iceland

to the United Nations


Statement by

H.E. Ambassador Gréta Gunnarsdóttir

Permanent Representative


The situation in the Middle East,

including the Palestinian question

23 July 2013


Mr. President,



In her briefing to the Security Council on the situation in Syria earlier this month, Under-Secretary-General Valerie Amos said and I quote: “We are not only watching the destruction of a country but also of its people.”

With 100.000 people dead, millions who have fled from the violence and become refugees or IDP´s, and with the breakdown of vital education and health services the situation can only be described as a tragedy.

The Government of Syria along with all other parties participating in the conflict must abide strictly by international humanitarian and human rights law, including by affording immediate access to humanitarian assistance.

We strongly urge the Security Council to overcome its internal differences and focus on exercising its leadership role in fostering a political and peaceful solution to the civil war in Syria.  The parties have demonstrated that they are not going to lay down arms without external interference and the Council has yet to demonstrate that it is doing all in its power to prevent further human tragedy.  Before the conflict escalates further and with even more serious consequences for regional peace and security, please take action.

In the meantime we welcome the briefing to take place in the General Assembly next Monday by Mr. Pinheiro, the Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the situation of human rights in Syria.  While the Council is not living up to its responsibility as regards the conflict, it is important for the wider membership to engage in the matter.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier this month, when he visited Reykjavík and spoke at the University of Iceland and I quote: “The people of Syria need peace, but all they have for the moment are talks about talks. We must do better.”, unquote.

Mr. President, indeed we must do better.


Mr. President,

The Palestinian Question

Last week we celebrated Mandela International Day to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela´s legacy and what he stands for.  He once said and I quote: „I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else´s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me.“, unquote.

The occupation affects all Palestinians as well as the Israelis. They are affected in diffrent ways, as one is the occupied and the other is occupier, but both are affected. 

The security of the Palestinians is greatly affected,  not least for young men, but also for those who live in close quarters with the settlements with settlers becoming increasingly violent towards Palestininans in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The security of the Israelis is also affected including by rockets being fired from Gaza indiscriminately and in clear violation of international law, threatening and terrorizing the civilian population in Southern Israel.

Mr. President,

We believe in a peaceful solution to the conflict and we believe it is urgent and possible for the parties to come to an agreement.  Accordingly we very much welcome the renewed engagement by the US in reviving the peace process. In particular, we welcome the announcement by Secretary of State, John Kerry, last Friday that an agreement has been reached that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations. 

We hope that this time the negotiations will result in two states living side by side in peace and security which is the only way forward for both parties and the only means through which there will be normalization in relations between Israel and its neighboring countries.  Until an agreement is actually reached, however, the international community must continue to do its utmost to prevent and address ongoing violations of humanitarian law and international human rights law on the ground.

Thank you, Mr. President

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