Thank you Special Coordinator Wennesland for your briefing, and for joining us here today in-person. Let me also thank Comfort Ero for your insightful remarks.
I will touch on a few points that Mr. Wennesland has brought up.
First, we have urged Israel to reverse the recent decisions to: construct more than 3000 housing units; and announce tenders for the construction of more than 1300 housing units in occupied Palestinian territory.
We are deeply worried that existing plans for illegal settlements- and these new ones if built- would seriously weaken the prospect of a contiguous Palestinian state.
We also share the Special Coordinator’s concern about the destabilising effect of the possible evictions, including in Sheikh Jarrah.
Norway urges Israel to cease the evictions on occupied territory.
Increased settler violence in the West Bank is also deeply worrying. We expect Israel to stop such violence, and to protect all civilians. Moreover, the recent attacks in the old city of Jerusalem by Palestinian militants are unacceptable.
We also remain concerned by the Israeli designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terror organizations. Specifically, that this will shrink the already limited space for important civil society engagement in Palestine. We are following up on the serious allegations made against these organizations. If we are not presented- in reasonable time- sufficient information to corroborate these accusations, we will request Israel to rescind the decision.
Norway is also deeply concerned by the reported use of rubber bullets and tear gas against schoolchildren in the West Bank. The right to education must be respected, as emphasised in the recently adopted Security Council Resolution 2601.
Palestine needs a stronger PA. The absence of regular national elections weakens the legitimacy of the PA. Palestinians deserve democracy and rule of law, with: security, equal rights, and opportunities for all. The upholding space for civil society, and respect for human rights are also key.
Norway is pleased that we were able to convene an AHLC meeting in Oslo earlier this month. The meeting addressed the critical fiscal situation for the Palestinian Authority, and the risk for further destabilisation in the West Bank- including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. It called for measures to strengthen the PA, reduce tensions, and to increase external financial support commensurate with Palestinian fiscal reforms. The meeting also called for removing restrictions to access and movement, and completing key infrastructure projects.
Both parties came to the meeting with constructive measures and a positive attitude. The PA announced its intention to embark on needed financial reforms. And Israel came with steps to improve the economy of the PA- starting with an early resumption of the work in the Joint Economic Committee to modernise the Paris Protocol.
Improving the economic relations between the PA and Israel is key, as there is simply not much external aid available.
We hope this positive meeting in Oslo will contribute to a new dynamic, also on the political track.
A strong Palestinian Authority – one which is trusted by the people and represents all of Palestine – is vital.
The International Conference in Brussels earlier this month also made welcome commitments to support UNRWA, but more is needed. Norway will increase its funding, and urges all others to do the same.
In closing, let me reiterate Norway’s continued support of, and belief in, the two-state solution; on the basis of: the 1967 lines, relevant Security Council resolutions- including resolution 2334- international law, and internationally agreed parameters.