Swedish statement at the UN Security Council Briefing on the siuation in the Middle East
National statement delivered by Ambassador Olof Skoog on behalf of Sweden at the United Nations Security Council Briefing on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, 19 November 2018, New York.
Thank you very much, Mr President. I am honoured by the presence today by Their Majesties the King and Queen of my country.
I want to start by thanking Special Coordinator Mladenov for his briefing and welcome his strong engagement, including to avoid another conflict in Gaza recently.
The vision of the international community remains unchanged. Israel and Palestine, side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as future capital of two states and home of three world religions. A two-state solution which resolves all final status issues.
However, each month, we reflect on the continuous deterioration of the situation on the ground, seriously hampering hopes for a two-state solution. Whether it is the continued Israeli occupation and illegal settlement expansion; threats of demolitions and evictions of villages such as Khan Al-Ahmar in area C; violence in and around Gaza including the recent firing of rockets; incitement, hatred and violence; or actions that shrink the space for civil society, the parties have a responsibility to reverse these negative trends.
Last week, we witnessed another dangerous outbreak of violence in and around Gaza. We condemn the firing of rockets against Israel by Hamas and other militant groups and regret the loss of life on both sides. While recognising Israel’s legitimate security concerns, we underline that the Israeli response must be proportionate. In the last seven months approximately 200 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and more than 24 000 have been injured. We all know that another full-fledged conflict would be an immense tragedy. We commend Egypt for their mediation efforts.
While calm has been restored for now, this is only temporary relief. The situation for the people in Gaza is untenable. It is a humanitarian catastrophe, affecting two million people without freedom to move to and from Gaza.
If we do not address the situation in Gaza holistically, a new flare-up of violence will be just around the corner. As we have stated repeatedly, there is an urgent need for:
- concrete humanitarian interventions with a quick, direct and immediate impact on daily lives to alleviate the suffering;
- easing of restrictions and improving access and movement to and from Gaza, including for all donors, with the aim of ending the closure of Gaza; and
- steps to further Palestinian reconciliation, allowing the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza.
We support the Egyptian-led efforts to achieve reconciliation and call on all Palestinian factions to engage genuinely to this end. Only reconciliation can lead to a unified Palestinian leadership and a reunification of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
This Council has a responsibility to actively contribute beyond these regular meetings, and Sweden has made concrete proposals to that effect.
We need to show the so called post-Oslo generation that there is an alternative to conflict, violence and to a constant deterioration on the ground. And the voices of the young Israelis and Palestinians must be heard and listened to, in line with this Council’s resolution 2419.
Israel and Palestine have responsibilities to build peaceful and inclusive societies, particularly with the meaningful participation of women and youth.
The shrinking space for civil society and the negative human rights developments are sources of great concern. On the Palestinian side, laws are used to curtail freedom of expression. On the Israeli side, representatives of civil society organisations are delegitimised, thereby limiting them from carrying out their important work. We call on the Palestinian and the Israeli leaderships to support, respect and allow civil society to operate and express their views freely.
We cannot allow the viability of a two-state solution to move beyond reach. There is an urgent need for action to avoid the risk of ending up not only in perpetual occupation, but in a one-state reality. This was the reason for the adoption by this Council of resolution 2334 almost two years ago. We look forward to the Secretary-General’s report next month, with a view to a more thorough examination of its implementation.
We must do everything in our power to make sure that the hope of two states is kept alive and that a just, lasting and comprehensive peace, based on international law, relevant UN resolutions and previous agreements, is realised.
I thank you very much, Mr President.