Middle East - Statement by Iceland



                                                                                  UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz



Statement by

Mr. Jón Erlingur Jónasson

Deputy Permanent Representative


The situation in the Middle East

23 April 2012



Madame President,

These are disturbing times in the Middle East. The situation in Syria remains of great concern and we call on all parties to do their utmost to ensure that the Annan peace plan will succeed. The international community, as well as the actors on the ground, must do all they can to prevent further conflict in Syria, while at the same time take steps towards permanent peace. These steps must necessarily address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.

Madame President,

I will focus my statement on the question of Palestine which Iceland would like to see receiving more attention by the Security Council. 

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict continues to be a core issue for peace and security in the Middle East.  The changes we are seeing in the region must include a solution to the conflict; only by addressing this core problem can we expect changes to bring sustainable peace.

Continued and accelerated settlement activities in the oPt, including East Jerusalem, remain the main obstacle to peace.  The request for the settlement activities to end cannot be called a precondition.  These are illegal actions, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  According to the Convention all parties are obliged to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances.  This is not only a question of politics - it is a question of upholding international humanitarian law.

Iceland therefore welcomes the resolution passed by the Human Rights Council in Geneva on conducting an international investigation into the settlements in the oPt, including East Jerusalem. We urge Israel to cooperate with the fact finding team.

Madame President,

We encourage the Members of the Security Council to accept the invitation of President Abbas to visit the occupied Palestinian territory at the earliest convenience.  Such a visit would give the Members a chance to see for themselves the situation on the ground, how the settlements, the Wall, the roadblocks and checkpoints, the separate road system for settlers etc., are systematically cementing the occupation and seriously undermining the two state solution.

By accepting the invitation the Security Council would demonstrate its willingness to study the situation first hand. 

At the moment it seems that all avenues are closed to the Palestinians. Their membership application to the United Nations has been vetoed beforehand. 

They have demonstrated their willingness to negotiate on the basis of international law and the Road Map – but negotiations are a difficult sell with settlement activities continuing unabated. A resolution on the settlements was vetoed last year and Palestinians continue to be illegally displaced from their homes.

Madame President,

The current situation reflects very badly on the international community and the Security Council should renew its commitment to solve the conflict and inform the rest of the membership on how they intend to proceed.

Palestinians are yearning for freedom and dignity.  They are looking to the UN to help them realize their right to self-determination and freedom from occupation.  Iceland fully supports the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and reiterates its call to the Security Council to recommend to the General Assembly that Palestine be accepted as the 194th Member State of the United Nations.

Thank you Madame President.


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