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

Statement by

H.E. Ambassador Gréta Gunnarsdóttir

Permanent Representative


The situation in the Middle East,

Including the Palestinian Question

15 October 2012


Mr. President,

The continuing and escalating bloodshed in Syria must be stopped.  The international community must unite to end the violence and do whatever it can to foster a political and peaceful solution for the sake of the Syrian people.  We must ensure that the regime, and anyone else responsible for the horrible atrocities committed, will at the end of the day face  responsibility in an international court of law. 

The conflict in Syria is already having serious consequences on neighbouring countries, with the flow of refugees straining their ability to cope, and artillery and mortar firing across borders.  Additionally, traditional transport routes are being disrupted which can have devastating economic consequences.

The truth of the matter is, that if the Security Council can not agree on how to address the situation then other forces will determine the course of action.  That does not bode well for the Syrian people or regional stability.  It will do us  well to recall that the UN Charter does confer the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security upon the Security Council.  The Council has to live up to this responsibility.

Quoting my Foreign Minister  in his speech during the general debate where he said:  „The truth is that the Security Council has become an obstacle to international efforts to address and solve situations such as in Syria.  We must reform it, so as to make it a tool, not a hindrance, for progress in situations such as in Syria this year, or – as we saw last year – concerning the Palestinian question.“ 


Mr. President,

The Minister also left no doubt in his speech during the general debate, as to Iceland´s firm support for the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.  Accordingly, Iceland continues to call upon the Security Council to vote in favour of  recommending to the General Assembly to accept Palestine´s application for UN membership.  In the meantime, Iceland will support  Palestine´s application for a permanent observer  status as a non-member state should the Palestinians decide to pursue that path.


Mr. President,

It was a tragic loss of opportunity when the SC decided not to accept the invitation to visit Palestine, to see for itself the situation on the ground to put it in a better position to take informed decisions on the matter.   The Council is not only judged by its actions  but also by its inactions and we strongly urge the members of the Council to reconsider their decision.


Mr. President,

The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is at the core of restoring durable peace and stability to the region.  The occupation leads to violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, where settlement activities in the oPt, including East Jerusalem and the wall continue to top the list.  The international community needs to continue to speak out against those violations and take actions accordingly.  One, should, however, never loose sight of the main issue which is to end the occupation altogether - to realize the two state solution through negotiations where both states can live in peace and security side by side.  That is the heart of the matter.  This is a conflict about land and that is why continued settlement activities are such an obstacle to peace.  It is, however, important to be aware that the settlements and the wall are reversible like everything  man made. 


Thank you, Mr. President

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