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SC: The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question

Statement by Ambassador Geir O. Pedersen at the open debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, 18 April 2016.

| Security Council


Nothing would do more to pave the way for broader regional stabilisation than finding a political settlement to the conflict in Syria. Norway fully supports UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura’s tireless efforts to this end.

All sides bear a heavy responsibility to turn the talks into a credible negotiating process that can lead to a genuine political transition. This means that the parties must start tackling the difficult questions set out in resolution 2254. This includes the establishment of credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance, an inclusive transitional governing body and a process for drafting a new constitution.

The parties also bear a heavy responsibility not to undermine the political process through detrimental actions on the ground.

The Syrian population has already endured the intolerable. The scale of destruction, death and hunger has been immense. Three out of four Syrians are living in poverty. More than two million children are out of school. We urge the parties to ensure that the cessation of hostilities is respected and that humanitarian access is improved, including for medical supplies. This is also crucial for the political process.

In February, donor countries pledged approximately 12 billion USD in support of Syria and the region for 2016-2020. The pledge for 2016 alone was six billion USD. This was an unprecedented pledge, but disbursements are lagging far behind schedule. It is time to honour the pledges that have been made.


Resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians remains vital for securing regional stability and prosperity – and indeed for international peace and security.

We must seek to counter those who are eroding the vision of the two-state solution, either deliberately or by default.

The status quo will not benefit anyone. Maintaining it will only cause more instability. For every day the status quo continues, an opportunity for peace is missed.

The occupation is deeply damaging to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

The two-state solution is the only credible way towards a viable and long-term peace. The parties themselves need to make greater strides to resolve the conflict. The current tensions call for immediate and coordinated steps by all sides.  All use of violence must stop.

Israel must stop building settlements and stop house demolitions. The Palestinians must strengthen their institutions and implement essential reforms. The necessary political compromises must be found to improve the situation in Gaza.


The responsibility for resolving the conflict lies with the parties. At the same time, the international community needs to make greater efforts to ensure a just and agreed solution based on the two-state solution. It is also in our interest to do so. We cannot let this conflict continue to aggravate the situation in a region that is already in turmoil.

The Security Council must therefore live up to its responsibility.

Tomorrow in Brussels, H.E. Mr. Brende, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, will convene a meeting of the donor coordination group (the AHLC). The AHLC’s goal is to build institutions for statehood and make the Palestinian economy as sustainable as possible until the conflict is resolved.

The aim of the meeting is to develop a plan for balancing the Palestinian budget. The plan will address matters such as plugging fiscal leakages, making the revenue-sharing arrangements between Israel and Palestine more effective, and developing a sustainable Palestinian economy through growth and private sector investments.

If the donors are to continue to develop a Palestinian state, there must be a credible political horizon for resolving the conflict.

A sustainable economy is essential for a future independent Palestinian state, but the ultimate goal must be to resolve the conflict. 

Making peace is difficult. The Security Council must show leadership and stake out a path for resuming the peace process.

Thank you.