Today, I will focus on three themes: the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, and the Middle East Peace Process.
On Syria, we would like to thank special envoy Staffan De Mistura for his tireless efforts in bringing peace to the Syrian people. He has set an example for how peace processes must devise inclusive mechanisms and involve civil society and women’s groups.
We wish the new envoy, Geir O. Pedersen, every success in his efforts to forge a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria. We strongly encourage the council members to come together and agree on a durable political solution, for the benefit of the Syrian people.
On Yemen, Norway welcomes the Stockholm Agreement and the adoption of Security Council resolutions 2451 and 2452. As the situation on the ground remains very fragile, it is important to uphold the momentum achieved in Sweden.
Concerted efforts by international, regional and national actors will be necessary to make sure that the Stockholm agreement is implemented on the ground, and political and humanitarian progress achieved. Women's representation at all levels of the political process is key. Norway will continue to prioritize humanitarian aid to Yemen
There is a strong international consensus that only a negotiated two-state solution can lead to a durable peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Palestinian state building and economic development remains essential building blocks to achieve this goal, but cannot substitute the need for a political resolution.
Norway will chair the next meeting of the international donor group to Palestine, the AHLC, hosted by the EU, in Brussels on 12 April. Leading up to the meeting, Norway will encourage progress on the outstanding fiscal issues between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and make a concerted action to mitigate the risks to the Palestinian economy.
The parties and the donors also need to move faster on implementing key infrastructure projects in water and energy sectors, especially in Gaza.
The situation in Gaza remains of great concern. Increased access to energy, clean water, health services, job creation, and movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza is crucial.
The political brinkmanship in and around Gaza will not lead to any stability nor development. The interests of the people of Gaza must be put first.
Donors should mobilize support to the humanitarian package for Gaza in coordination with the PA. The monthly financial transfers to Gaza by the PA are the lifeline for the population, and must continue.
UNRWA remains indispensable. It is vital that donors remain committed to supporting the organization.
Norway has been a consistent partner for promoting peace and security in the Middle East for decades. Our commitment to helping resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on our firm support to the two-state solution.
In the absence of political progress, we call on all parties and donors to do their utmost to preserve the institutional and economic foundation for a future Palestinian state.