Thank you Special Coordinator Wennesland for your briefing, and for the report on the implementation of resolution 2334.
Once again, today’s reporting shows that the deeply disturbing trend of settlement activity, demolitions, evictions, and violence continues unabated. We urge the Israeli government to halt, and reverse this trend.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The expansion of settlements in and around Jerusalem, and deep into Area C, contribute to undermining the prospects of a future contiguous Palestinian state.
Israel’s decision not to approve- in the immediate future- the building of settlement units in Atarot, is a step in the right direction. But the media have also recently reported worrying plans for settlements in Beit Safafa, Sheikh Jarrah, Dahiat al-Barid/Beit Hanina and Sur Baher.
Today’s reporting describes daily violence throughout the Occupied Territory. Including: clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, high levels of settler-related violence, attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, and the use of lethal force by Israeli security forces against Palestinians.
We condemn all acts of violence. They must be stopped.
We are especially concerned about children, who experience violence and threats- including on their way to school- by settlers, and reportedly also by Israeli security forces. Those responsible for violent acts must be held to account. Israel has responsibility to protect all civilians from violence, including children. And to uphold their right to education.
Norway also remains concerned about the PA’s financial situation. A sustainable Palestinian economy is critical, both for long-term state building, as well as for the more immediate needs for stability.
We welcome the stepped-up engagement between senior Israeli and Palestinian officials in this regard.
We are also encouraged by reports of progress in implementing the recommendations from the AHLC and the Quartet meetings in Oslo in November, namely that:
· The entry of goods and material into Gaza has increased;
· The total numbers of permits issued for Gaza traders has expanded to ten thousand;
· The parties have agreed on all technicalities shifting to a digital VAT-collection system;
· And the opening of Said Pool waterline- which allows for an additional 5 million cubic meters of water into central Gaza, improving the water quality there.
Norway welcomes also the agreement between the European Union, Palestinian, and Israeli authorities to launch shipments of containers through the King Hussein / Allenby Bridge border crossing with Jordan. And we welcome decisions of continued assistance by Qatar into the year 2022, and 100 million USD of additional financial support provided by Algeria to the PA.
We commend the Palestinian Authority for holding the first round of local elections on December 11. It is now imperative that the second round of elections are held as planned in March 2022.
Palestinians deserve democracy and the rule of law- with security, equal rights, and opportunities for all. Lack of popular support, and the absence of regular national elections weakens the legitimacy of the PA.
In closing President,
Let me reiterate Norway’s continued support of, and belief in, the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 lines, relevant Security Council resolutions including resolution 2334, international law, and international agreed parameters.