Margot Wallström is no longer a government minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs
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Minister for Foreign Affair's speech at the Open Debate of the UN Security Council on the Peace process in the Middle East
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I would like to thank Spain for organising this timely meeting and Foreign Minister García-Margallo for presiding over it. I would also like to thank Deputy Secretary-General Eliasson for his remarks this morning.
I welcome the Secretary-General's visit to the region and as he said in Jerusalem earlier this week the terror attacks against civilians are deplorable. Such random attacks make every place unsafe and every person a potential victim. We are deeply concerned about the deaths on both sides, and almost two thousand injured, so far in October, a vast majority of them Palestinians. The Israeli response must be proportionate. All perpetrators must be brought to justice. Excessive use of force must not be used. A further escalation of violence would have unforeseen consequences. There is an urgent need for leadership, responsibility and restraint.
One year ago, Sweden decided to recognise the State of Palestine. Our recognition aimed at making the parties to the conflict less unequal. It aimed at supporting moderate Palestinians and Israelis alike, providing a positive input into the dynamics of the dormant Middle East Peace Process, and to send a clear and convincing message of hope to younger generations that there is an alternative to violence and to the so called status quo. As we have seen in recent weeks, the absence of hope is one of the greatest challenges facing the prospect of peace and the vision of a two-state solution.
It is not too late for initiatives for de-escalation, confidence building and peace in the region.
- Now it is time to create conditions for a results oriented peace process, including confidence building measures such as settlement freeze;
- Now it is time for the full implementation of agreements reached between Palestine and Israel;
- Now it is time to end the isolation of Gaza, and for all factions in Palestine to cooperate;
- Now it is time to remove obstacles for economic development in all of Palestine, including access to area C and Gaza;
- Now it is time for an international recommitment regarding clear parameters and realistic time frames for negotiations and an end to the occupation.
We must not lose track of the real goal: a negotiated two-state solution and an end of the occupation where both Palestine and Israel can live side by side in peace and security. This Council should lead the way.
The recent escalation of the violence in Syria is deeply concerning. The present situation more than ever calls for complete, genuine and concrete support to the Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura and a political solution. This humanitarian crisis is the world’s largest in modern time. Sweden shoulders its responsibility in three ways: Firstly, we now receive 3,000 Syrian refugees every week and we have so far received 100,000, although I know it is a small number compared to the neighbouring countries Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Secondly, Sweden has so far contributed with more than 213 million US dollars in humanitarian assistance. Thirdly, in addition to our humanitarian assistance Sweden will allocate another 220 million dollars over the coming five years through a new Syria Crisis Strategy. I therefore encourage all others present here today to step up your engagement.
Throughout the conflict in Syria, women and girls have been targeted on the basis of their gender. Sexual violence is systematic and widespread amongst many warring parties, including used as a tactic of terror by ISIL. But Syrian women are not only victims but also actors. That is why I am hosting a meeting on Syrian women peacebuilders tomorrow morning.
Lebanon is one of the most affected countries by the conflict in Syria. Domestic stability in Lebanon is key. Lebanese leaders need to set their differences aside and elect a new President without any further delay. But Lebanon also needs and deserves more international support. Lebanon, led ably by Prime Minister Tammam Salam, is hosting more than 1.2 million who have fled the war in Syria. Sweden’s substantial humanitarian assistance and our contribution to the Trust Fund for Lebanon, managed by the World Bank, will soon be complemented by increased development assistance. I strongly encourage others to follow suit.
As mentioned, the vicious cycle of direct and indirect violence has to be broken. Security cannot be achieved through bombs or rockets, war or violence, humiliation or threats. Genuine security can only be achieved through peace. We need to take our responsibility. We owe this to the children and future generations in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and other countries in the region.
We need to restore the hope of a better future.