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SC: Situation in the Middle East

Statement by H.E. Ambassador Geir O. Pedersen, on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, 17 January 2017.

| Security Council

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President,

There is a strong international consensus on how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be resolved;

First, a negotiated two-state solution with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, is the only way to achieve a durable peace. 

Second, the parties should restate their commitments to the two-state solution and take urgent steps in order to reverse current negative trends on the ground, including settlement activity and continued acts of violence.

Third, the outstanding issues between the parties can only be resolved through direct negotiations. 

President,

Norway is actively engaged as the Chair of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in supporting the parties to make further progress on strengthening the Palestinian institutions and sustaining the Palestinian economy.

The donors need to realize that the PA will not be able to close the current financing gap by itself, partly due to a significant drop in budget support. The donors should reconsider their budget support commitments and disburse their pledges made in the Cairo conference in 2014.

The AHLC has never been an alternative to any peace agreement but a necessary condition for it. As a state-building project it has underpinned the two-state solution. It is the only existing international mechanism where both parties meet regularly and engage in a serious dialogue to resolve outstanding economic issues.

Most importantly, with the assistance of the AHLC, the parties have made progress and delivered concrete results.

Just two recent examples.

First, the agreement on transferring the authority of the electricity sector to the Palestinian Authority last fall.

Second, the agreement on last Sunday to renew the activity of the Joint Water Committee to improve water infrastructure and supplies to the Palestinian people. Both these agreements are significant steps in transferring authority to the PA, as outlined in the Oslo accords.

The Palestinian state-building must continue. It is critical to the viability of the two-state solution. It is also critical for delivering basic public services such as water and energy to the Palestinian people. 

President,

On Syria, all sides should grasp 2017 as an opportunity to find a way out of the destructive cycle of escalation and counter-escalation.

The conflict has already resulted in an economic loss of $275 billion and the estimated need to reconstruct Syria is at a daunting $180-200 billion. The reconstruction of Syria is intricately linked to the ceasefire and political negotiations.

We are therefore pleased the ceasefire is holding, ensuring somewhat improved humanitarian access. But the numerous alleged violations are of great concern. We hope the Astana meeting will focus on securing a lasting ceasefire to further reduce violence. 

The ceasefire is also important for confidence building. It provides an important frame for resuming the UN led negotiations in Geneva on 8 February. UN Security Council resolutions 2254, 2268 and 2336 must be fully implemented.

It is time to get back to work and agree on a peaceful future for Syria.

Thank you.