Despite continued turmoil in the Middle East, some political developments give cause for cautious optimism. The recent implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is a victory for diplomacy and an important milestone for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts internationally.
The agreement demonstrates the strength of joint political efforts, and the importance of political will. Norway is pleased to have contributed to the implementation, in line with the work being done in the run-up to the Nuclear Security Summit in spring 2016.
We are hopeful that the forthcoming talks in Geneva will contribute to a political settlement to the conflict in Syria. We support all efforts to this end, and we are continuing to contribute to UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura's efforts to facilitate the talks.
However, while we work to find a political solution to the conflict, we must step up our work to alleviate the grave humanitarian situation.
Norway therefore urges the international community to be prepared to make pledges when we meet in London next week for the 'Supporting Syria and the Region' conference. We need to clearly demonstrate our solidarity with the millions of people in need of our support. We urge the international community to mobilise the resources needed to alleviate the humanitarian situation.
In line with political efforts throughout the region, Norway urges both parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to take all necessary steps to resume political dialogue and end the current stalemate.
The only viable route to achieving lasting peace and stability is a credible political process towards a two-state solution. The responsibility, and thereby the keys to resolving the conflict, lie primarily with the parties themselves.
Norway encourages the UN Security Council to resume its responsibility and provide constructive assistance in the process. The situation as it is now cannot continue. The current tensions call for immediate and coordinated political steps by all sides.
In order to make progress, the following actions need to be taken:
First, violence must stop. All must strive to lower the level of conflict.
Second, Israel should stop building new settlements on occupied land and stop expanding existing ones. Israel should refrain from land confiscation and house demolitions. Activities of this kind only serve to undermine any political process.
Third, Palestine needs to strengthen its political institutions and governance structures and implement essential reforms. In particular, efforts on a far larger scale than we are seeing today are needed to improve the situation in Gaza. With respect to reintegrating the governance framework under a single authority, the parameters of the security agreements between Israel and the PLO must be fully respected.
Fourth, there is a need for urgent cooperation between the parties on tangible measures to strengthen the Palestinian economy and the reconstruction of Gaza, with a view to advancing a political process.
During the current stalemate, Norway along with the international community will make every effort to encourage the parties to maintain the vision of the two-state solution.
While we are aware that donor countries are facing ongoing budget re-allocations and development budget cuts, we urge all donors to maintain their current level of aid to the PA.
This is particularly important during this turbulent period in the Middle East. We cannot afford to see the PA institutions start to unravel. Supporting long-term institution building is key to achieving stability. Supporting viable Palestinian state-building remains at the core of our engagement and commitment to peace.
These efforts are vital in order to prepare for the next meeting of the international donor group (AHLC), which is scheduled for mid-April.