The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question - Statement by Iceland

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


22 October 2013



Mr/Madam President,

Over two and a half years ago, the unrest in Syria started with unforeseen horrific consequences. A country is in ruins

Iceland condemns in the strongest terms the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  We also condemn all other violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in the country without regard to who is the perpetrator.

In the latest report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, the Commission says that the perpetrators of these violations and crimes, on all sides, do not fear accountability and that a referral to justice is imperative.  Iceland agrees and would like to use this opportunity to reiterate our request to the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

We welcome the Security Council’s unanimous adoption of resolution 2118 requiring the verification and destruction of the chemical weapons stock piles in Syria. Likewise, we welcome efforts to convene the second Geneva conference in November.

In light of the open debate in the Security Council last Friday, on Women, Peace and Security, Iceland would like to reiterate the importance of women as mediators and their role at the negotiating table. Womens’ participation in peace negotiations is fundamental to ensure results and now is the time to put our words to action and have women actively involved in the Geneva conference to make sure that women´s rights will be protected and promoted in any future political solution on Syria.

Mr/Madam President,

Journalists are our eyes and ears in conflict zones. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that journalists are granted free access so they can report without obstruction. They have a right to the same protection as civilians, as recognized by the Security Council in its resolution 1738.  In Syria, however, they operate under extremely dangerous circumstances with 28 journalists killed in the country last year.  This has to change and the freedom of movement of journalists throughout the country and a non-discriminatory visa policy for them, as called for in the six-point plan, must be respected. 

Mr/Madam President,

The situation in the Middle East cannot be separated from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict which remains a key issue.

We welcome the renewed peace talks between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine and commend Secretary Kerry for his commitment. It is extremely important for the peace process to provide tangible results, respecting the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, as well as Israel´s right to exist within safe and secure borders.

But time is short. The continuing settlement activities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are an obstacle to peace and may well make the two-state solution impossible. The international community, including the Security Council, needs to address the situation and must do its utmost to prevent on-going violations of human rights and humanitarian law on the ground.

This includes addressing the continued settlement activities, which are not confined to the construction of new homes for settlers but also include new roads and other infrastructure as well as demolitions and evacuation orders.

Mr/Madam President,

In conclusion I would like to emphasize that this time the negotiations must result in two states living side by side in peace and security.  That is the only way forward for both parties.

Thank you, Mr/Madam President







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