SC: Open Debate on The Middle East

| SC

Mr. President, Tensions are increasing in the Middle East, and it has become even more difficult to reengage Israel and Palestine in a meaningful political process. It is therefore imperative to prepare the ground for political initiatives that can lead to renewed negotiations on a two-state solution.

Norway is deeply concerned about the violent clashes on the Gaza-Israeli border. We urge all parties to act with responsibility and restraint, and to refrain from any actions that could lead to further escalation or loss of life.

The use of lethal force against unarmed protesters who are demonstrating peacefully is unacceptable.

While Israel has a legitimate right to protect its borders, any use of force must be necessary and proportionate. It is also important to stress that freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are fundamental rights that must be respected. But protests must be non-violent. As we have already emphasised, the most serious incidents must be subject to an independent and credible investigation. This is first and foremost a national responsibilty.

However, Gaza can only be sustainable as part of a comprehensive resolution to the conflict. 

Mr. President, As chair of the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee, Norway, together with the EU, the UN and the US, has intensified its work to support Palestinian institution building, and to address the precarious humanitarian situation in Gaza.

We recently held two AHLC meetings in Brussels – on 31 January and 20 March – both of which aimed at improving the critical situation in Gaza. Key priorities are increased water and energy distribution, and improved access and movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza, with special priority given to medical equipment and people in need of medical treatment.

Our goal must be to help the 2 million people in Gaza. Norway is actively consulting with the parties, Egypt and key international partners to address the current crisis.

Policies and decisions by the parties that run counter to the needs of the people of Gaza must stop.

It is also imperative that the PA reinstates its full authority in Gaza. The Cairo Agreement must be fully implemented, and the closure of Gaza must be eased.

President, Following chemical attacks in Syria, it is crucial that the OPCW inspectors have unhindered access so that they can continue their investigations. We also urge the Security Council to establish a mechanism to hold those responsible to account.

Norway is deeply concerned about the recent escalations of violence in Syria. We underline the need for renewed efforts to find political solutions. It is important that all the parties involved in the conflict work through the UN-led negotiations to achieve a durable peace.

Yesterday, at the Brussels conference for the Syria-crisis, the donors pledged 4.4 billion USD for 2018. While this confirms the international commitment to ease the burden of the Syrian people, the pledges made are less than half of what the UN estimates is needed. Norway is on track to fulfill our four-year pledge of over 1 billion USD. This year we will contribute 280 million USD to the Syria crisis, including neighbouring countries.

Mr. President, Norway fully supports the Iran nuclear deal. When it was signed in 2015, the JCPOA was a milestone for international peace and security. Iran has complied with its commitments under the deal. It is now crucial to ensure that the JCPOA survives. This means that all parties must remain committed to complying with both the letter and the spirit of the agreement. 

Thank you.