Thank you to Special Coordinator Wennesland for your briefing. We regret to hear from you that more than four years after resolution 2334 was adopted by this Council, the trends are moving in the wrong direction. In fact, resolution 2334 – the most recent parameter for peace laid down by this Council, building on previous Council products – is not being implemented.
2020 set a new, and deeply concerning record in the number of new settlement units being built, or announced. And, the high level of settlement activity and house demolitions continue. The evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and other areas of East Jerusalem are also worrying. These developments contribute to a more volatile situation, and undermine the prospects of a future, contiguous Palestinian state. Israeli settlement activities on occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law. Settlement expansions, demolitions and evictions, and all acts of violence against civilians must stop.
With regard to the COVID-19 pandemic, we applaud Israel’s vaccination of more than half of its population- and the vaccination of Palestinian workers and health personnel. We congratulate the Palestinian Authority also for the launch of their vaccination campaign. We encourage continued cooperation to combat the pandemic and to secure vaccines for all Palestinians. In a pandemic, no one is safe before everyone is safe.
We are also pleased to see that a high number of people have registered to vote in the upcoming Palestinian elections. As the Special Coordinator has noted, about 40% of the registered voters are under the age of 30, and are first time voters. It is vital that the expectations of these new voters – and indeed all voters – are fulfilled.
We urge the PA and all Palestinian factions to ensure that elections are held in a free, fair, and competitive manner, and Israel to facilitate the elections, including in East Jerusalem.
It is also crucial to ensure a safe and enabling environment for a free and vibrant civil society in Palestine - not least in relation to the election process.
We welcome the recent adoption of Palestine’s second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. It is a crucial step in efforts to build and sustain inclusive peace and security- priority should now be given to its full implementation.
Despite all the challenges we have heard today, we are certain that progress is possible. As Chair of the AHLC, Norway will continue to work with the parties and the international community in implementing measures to improve the situation on the ground. Which will help prepare for the resumption of a meaningful political process.
Our goal remains firm: a just, lasting, and comprehensive solution. One based on international law, relevant UN resolutions and internationally agreed parameters- with two sovereign, democratic, and independent states, side by side, within secure and recognized borders on the basis of the June 1967 lines.
And let me reiterate our call for a re-start of negotiations towards this end. A revitalisation of the Quartet could be an important first step. Building on this, a broader international initiative can also be crafted, with a key role for the UN.
We are hopeful that the changing dynamics of the region - including the normalisation agreements - can be utilised to re-start negotiations between the parties.