Thank you to Special Coordinator Wennesland for your remarks, and for all your efforts to calm tensions on the ground.
Our first and foremost priority must be to avoid a new escalation, like we saw in May last year. All parties - including political and religious leaders - must contribute to lowering tensions. The integrity of the holy sites, and the historic status quo in Jerusalem must be upheld and fully respected. We acknowledge Jordan’s important role in this regard.
Those with influence on the ground should have access to adequate channels of communication that can be used to avoid misunderstandings. Dialogue between religious leaders should also resume. Stun grenades, rubber bullets, and molotov cocktails have no place inside a mosque. Israeli security forces must act proportionally and in line with international law. And all civilians must be protected, especially children. The human rights of Palestinians and Israelis are equally important.
We condemn all acts of terrorism, including those seen in Tel Aviv and other locations in Israel recently. We also condemn the firing of rockets from Gaza into Southern Israel.
While addressing the immediate challenges on the ground, we should also not lose sight of the underlying causes. The Israeli occupation and settlement activity, as well as violence against civilians, are drivers of this conflict. We need more long-term solutions, and most importantly a political horizon. Norway remains committed to the two-state solution and will continue its efforts towards this end. Norway will reconvene the AHLC in Brussel, hosted by the EU, on 9 and 10 May.
Preliminary reports tell us that progress has been made in several of the priority projects that were defined in Oslo last November. The parties and the donors will therefore continue to review their status, and set goals for efforts during the second half of this year.
There is a need to strengthen the PA as a trusted and legitimate government for its people. There is a need also for well-functioning, and financially sustainable institutions, providing essential public services to the Palestinian people. The PA must implement the necessary reforms to achieve this. The aim of the AHLC is to help build such foundations for the Palestinian state, within the context of the two-state vision for a solution to the conflict. Norway will continue its role as Chair to this end.