Thank you Special Coordinator Wennesland for your briefing.
The situation in Gaza continues to be volatile. There is a clear need for long-term solutions, first and foremost in the form of a solid and lasting ceasefire. We commend Egypt’s ongoing efforts in Gaza.
Let me also highlight a positive development: the MoU between Qatar and the UN to provide cash assistance to about 100 000 families in need in Gaza. We welcome the contributions from Qatar and the efforts of the Special Coordinator and his team. In addition to alleviating the suffering of the civilian population, such assistance is critical for securing stability in Gaza.
For regional stability, UNRWA's continued ability to deliver essential services to Palestine refugees remains crucial. We call for sufficient funding for the agency.
Norway welcomes that Israel has lifted some restrictions imposed on Gaza. We call on further steps, including to increase the number of work permits to Israel for Gazans. The population of Gaza needs increased opportunities for economic activity, trade and travel, as well as genuine access to their fisheries.
Furthermore, we urge all actors to contribute to de-escalation and refrain from actions and rhetoric that could inflame tensions. We expect groups in Gaza to uphold the ceasefire and attend to the needs of their own population. The people of Gaza will not live peace unless their leaders embrace it.
Still, only a broad political solution can solve the underlying problems of the conflict. We reiterate our call for a two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 lines, relevant Security Council resolutions, international law and internationally agreed upon parameters.
I would like to reiterate our concern for Israel’s illegal settlement activities, demolitions and evictions. The proposal to build 9000 new settlement units in Atarot would further isolate Ramallah from East Jerusalem. With other plans in the area around Jerusalem, these settlements undermine the prospects of a contiguous Palestinian state and a viable two-state solution.
We are concerned about the rising levels of violence against Palestinians, particularly children, in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Recently, there have been violent clashes around the village of Beita, in connection to demonstrations against attempts to establish a new outpost nearby. We urge Israel to avoid the excessive use of force and to ensure protection of Palestinians against settler attacks.
We reiterate that a strong PA is crucial for the delivery of services to the Palestinian people and development, both in the West Bank and in Gaza. A strong PA is one which is well-financed, well-functioning, accountable, and enjoys democratic legitimacy among the Palestinian people.
Norway is also concerned about the treatment of political activists and demonstrators by the Palestinian security forces, including recent arrests. We call on the PA to uphold their human rights obligations, including to respect the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
We commend the new Israeli government for resuming a broad dialogue with their Palestinian counterparts. We urge the parties to use this new momentum constructively to secure progress across a wide variety of outstanding issues.
The financial situation of the PA remains precarious. It is necessary to significantly increase the tax revenues of the Palestinian Authority. There is also tremendous potential for cooperating on matters such as trade, infrastructure, water, energy and telecommunications. Furthermore, Norway calls on international donors to step up their assistance and contributions.
These and other measures to provide tangible benefits to the people on the ground will be discussed at the upcoming AHLC Ministerial Meeting, which Norway will convene on 23 September in New York.
I thank you.