Thank you Special Coordinator Wennesland for your updates; and thank you also to Meredith Rothbart, and Mai Farsakh for your valuable remarks.
Let me begin by welcoming the resumption of broader dialogue between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The August face-to-face meeting between President Abbas, and Minister of Defence Gantz, is a first, crucial, step towards broader engagement. We encourage the parties to further expand this dialogue, including to political issues.
For example - given the precarious financial situation - it is urgent to agree on amendments to the Paris Protocol, to improve the long-term fiscal situation and institutional capacity of the PA.
Palestine needs a stronger PA. A strong PA is one which is well-functioning, accountable, and enjoys democratic legitimacy among the Palestinian people.
We are also encouraged by the seemingly more stable situation in Gaza. The delivery of cash assistance to tens of thousands of vulnerable families in Gaza - following the MoU between the UN and Qatar - is especially important. It is critical that assistance continues to reach those most in need.
Additionally, efforts to secure a long-term and sustainable ceasefire must be strengthened. And we welcome the additional lifting of restrictions on Gaza by Israel.
Norway calls on the de-facto rulers of Gaza to keep the situation calm, act in the best interest of the people of Gaza, and protect civilians.
The Special Coordinator’s briefing today has yet again showcased the negative impact of Israeli settlement activity, house demolitions, evictions, and settler violence.
While we note that there have been no new announced housing units in the reporting period, we remain concerned about projects in the pipeline. We again underscore that Israeli settlement activities are illegal under international law. They fuel violence, and undermine the prospects of a contiguous Palestinian State, and a viable two-state solution.
Norway is concerned that the number of house demolitions in 2021 has increased by 40 percent compared to last year - according to OCHA. And displacement has nearly doubled. This trend is alarming, and unacceptable.
We are also worried about the security situation on the west bank - including the high number of violent clashes between protestors and Israeli security forces.
We are particularly concerned that children continue to be victims of violence. Children should never be targeted, or put in harm’s way. Just the opposite - they must be afforded special protection.
And let me reiterate the need to ensure the protection and security of all civilians - especially during this volatile time at the start of the olive harvest season. We urge all actors to de-escalate, and refrain from actions and rhetoric that fuels tensions.
We welcome the recent improvement in dialogue between Israel and Jordan. Especially, given Jordan’s historic role as custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem, and in maintaining stability in Palestine.
We regret that the ministerial level meeting of the AHLC planned for 23 September had to be postponed. It is urgent that the parties - as well as donors - meet
in-person for these important discussions. Let me assure you of our commitment to re-convene as soon as possible. We are hopeful that a meeting can be arranged later this fall.
Let me conclude by restating the fundamental truth: that 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 parameters.