Thank you to Deputy Special Coordinator Lynn Hastings for your briefing, and thank you to Yudith Oppenheimer for your insightful remarks.
Let me begin today by reiterating Norway’s strong support to the UN, and the Special Coordinator’s efforts to secure a long-term ceasefire. Yet despite these efforts, the situation in Palestine remains unresolved and tense. As Ms. Hastings’ briefing has yet again illustrated: what’s needed most at this time is stability, and sustainable solutions.
As chair of the donor group for Palestine — the AHLC — Norway convened a working-level meeting earlier this month. This meeting discussed the critical financial situation of the Palestinian Authority, and humanitarian and development needs in Palestine- particularly in Gaza. It is positive that following the meeting, there has been direct contact between the Israeli government and President Abbas for the first time in several years.
We also welcome the intention to resume meetings of the Joint Economic Committee under the Paris Protocol. The AHLC remains the only forum where the Parties and the donors come together to assist in building the foundations for a Palestinian State in preparation for the two-state solution to the conflict. Encouraged by the progress and dialogue in the most recent AHLC meeting, we look forward to the ministerial-level meeting in New York this September.
Today’s situation in Palestine, economically, financially- and considering the sharpened political tensions- is more severe and challenging than perhaps ever before. The international community must work with the parties to strengthen the Palestinian economy, and improve socio-economic conditions. A strong Palestinian Authority is crucial for the delivery of services to the Palestinian people, and development both in the West Bank and in Gaza. And a strong Palestinian Authority is one which is well-financed, well-functioning, accountable, and enjoys democratic legitimacy and popular support, where violence against political opponents and journalists is unacceptable.
We remain concerned about continued settlement expansions, house demolitions, evictions, and violence. We take note of reports that indicate a significant increase this year in demolitions and evictions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Of particular concern are the repeated demolitions of the Palestinian Bedouin community of Humsa al-Bqai’a. The planned construction in Givat Hamatos that will isolate Bethlehem and the southern West Bank from East Jerusalem.
All Israeli measures altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international humanitarian law- and they severely undermine the prospects for a two-state solution.
All parties must respect human rights, including the right to assembly and peaceful protests. We reiterate the need to preserve the status quo of the holy sites in East Jerusalem.
I will conclude today by reiterating that the current situation is un-sustainable. The financial situation of the PA is critical. A solid ceasefire in Gaza is still not in place. And as long as there is no political process, and no end to the occupation, civilians will continue to suffer. The need for restarting meaningful negotiation are more urgent than ever.