Today, I will focus on three themes: the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, and the Middle East Peace Process.
On Syria, we are relieved by the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 2533, but regret that the Council has decided to further limit the scope of the existing mechanism. We are gravely concerned about the potential impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, a dire economy, and the reported looming famine. All parties, in particular the Syrian regime and its backers, must cease all hostilities and ensure protection of civilians and humanitarian access.
There is no military solution to the conflict. We reiterate our full support for Special Envoy Geir O. Pedersen and a political settlement in line with UN Security Council resolution 2254.
Norway is deeply concerned about the military escalation in Yemen, as well as the spread of the covid-19-pandemic and the condition of the Safer oil tanker. We support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy and urge the parties to commit to a ceasefire, engage in political consultations, and agree on urgent humanitarian and economic measures. A lasting peace in Yemen is urgently needed and only an inclusive political solution can end the conflict and the humanitarian crisis.
On 2 June, Norway and the European Union co-chaired a virtual Ministerial meeting of the international donor group for Palestine, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, with the participation of the two parties and the donors. The meeting was held in the context of political developments that has affected the cooperation between the parties negatively in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and a fiscal crisis that threatens the existence of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Palestinian economic and institutional development continue to be constrained by a combination of factors. The Covid-19 crisis adds serious negative repercussions for the Palestinian economy. There is an urgent need for improved fiscal arrangements that will ensure regular and predictable monthly transfers to the PA, and for continued financial support from the donors. The safety and health of the Palestinian population must be ensured and their property protected from attacks.
There is a need to assure prompt delivery of humanitarian supplies to the Palestinian population and in particular to protect all efforts to prevent further aggravation of the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, the PA should assure, to the extent possible, salary payments to public employees in Gaza and the West Bank. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) remains indispensable. It is vital that donors continue their support to the organization.
For decades, donors have remained committed to improving the institutional and economic conditions for a negotiated two-state solution. In the AHLC meeting, donors confirmed their continued support for a negotiated two-State solution and Palestinian economic development. However, their support alone cannot bring a solution or be a substitute for a political process. The current threats and impediments both to economic and political progress must be reversed.
Norway has on several occasions warned against Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank. Annexation violates international law, and it would undermine the possibility of establishing a contiguous Palestinian state and the prospects of achieving a lasting peace.
We echo the call by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to this Council on 24 June, by urging the parties to commit to a meaningful dialogue, and all supporters of the two-state solution to help bring the parties back to a path towards a lasting settlement. Existing agreements and relevant UN resolutions should form the basis for the resumption of talks. Under the Oslo Accords, the parties have undertaken to resolve all outstanding issues, including borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem, in the final-status negotiations. There is a strong international consensus that only a negotiated two-state solution can lead to a durable peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.