Thank you to Special Coordinator Wennesland for your report.
We share your concern about tensions in East Jerusalem, and the rest of the West Bank. With Ramadan, Pesach, and Easter coinciding in April, it is imperative to avoid a new escalation of violence. Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in security.
The integrity of the holy sites, and the historic status quo in Jerusalem must be upheld and fully respected. We also call for respect of the rights of Palestinians, including their right to peacefully potest. We are especially concerned about children being victims of violence and threats, as well as the arrests of Palestinian children.
Among the significant drivers of conflict are Israeli settlement activities, house demolitions and evictions. We welcome the decision by the Israeli Supreme Court to terminate eviction orders against four Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah. However, long-term solutions are needed, and all evictions in East Jerusalem must be halted indefinitely.
I would also like to highlight the situation in Masafer Yatta, where Israeli authorities are planning to demolish several Palestinian villages to establish a firing zone for military training. If implemented, this plan would displace around 1300 individuals who have lived in this area for generations. We urge Israel to refrain from carrying out this plan. I reiterate that all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition of occupied areas are in violation with international humanitarian law.
So let me again highlight that the establishment of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory- including in East Jerusalem- constitute a flagrant violation of international law.
Regarding Gaza, we are encouraged to see a more stable situation. The lifting of Israeli restrictions, and relative calm from all sides have contributed positively. We encourage Israel to continue the easing of restrictions, allowing for more trade, and increasing the number of work permits for Palestinians. The ultimate goal must be the total lifting of the blockade.
We look forward to the second round of local elections being held across the West Bank on March 26. The mobilisation around these elections shows that Palestinians want democracy. Norway will continue our support to the Central Elections Commission. Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority must be strengthened, and its governance spread across Palestine. The economy must be allowed to flourish.
Let me affirm Norway’s commitment to a political horizon and a negotiated two-state solution.
Even while Ukraine dominates the headlines - and the agenda of this Council - we cannot abandon other ongoing crises. We must continue to work for a long-term solution, one which will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians. Finding a political solution to the conflict is not only essential for Israel and Palestine, but for the whole region.