Thank you to Special Coordinator Wennesland for your remarks, and for being here with us in-person today. I also want to thank Robi Damelin and Daniel Munayer for their strong and thought-provoking remarks.
We remain deeply concerned about the rising tensions especially in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. It is essential that tensions are lowered, and the threat of extremists is controlled. The historic status quo of the holy sites must also be upheld.
We condemn all acts of terrorism. And all acts of incitement and violence against civilians are unacceptable.
Also, as already voiced by us in this Council: Journalists must be protected. Their work is essential for peace and democracy. We condemned the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, and support the call for a thorough, transparent, and impartial investigation. The scenes from her funeral procession in Jerusalem were deeply disturbing. Funeral processions must be shown the utmost respect, and civilians must always be protected.
We reiterate our call on Israeli authorities to halt all settlement expansions, evictions, and demolitions. We urge Israel to revoke the plans to demolish several villages in the Masafer Yatta area, which will forcibly evict about 1300 Palestinians. Israel should also refrain from carrying out the announced plans to advance thousands of new housing units in the West Bank.
Norway and the European Union convened the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on 9 to 10 May in Brussels. The aim of the AHLC is to help build the foundation of a Palestinian state, and help realise the two-state solution. Transferring authority to the PA is a key element in this.
The AHLC commended the parties for positive achievements since their meeting in Oslo in November 2021. For example: the pilot for electronic transfer of VAT has been launched. Barriers to trade between Palestine and Jordan are being removed. And access for Palestinians to the Israeli labour market has been increased, both from the West Bank and Gaza. Also, there are new agreements that provide more water, and more wastewater treatment. And more goods go in to, and exports out of, Gaza.
These steps are important for development, economic growth, and sustainability of the Palestinian Authority.
The AHLC however, is impatient for more progress. Announcements by the PA of unrealistic wage increases are causing concern. And the much-needed reforms aiming at balancing the budget cannot wait further. The PA is still in a deep financial and political crisis.
The two parties must further intensify their cooperation to stabilise the Palestinian economy; increase the revenues to the PA; and facilitate economic growth.
And Israel must reduce the restrictions imposed by the occupation; avoid escalatory actions; and take more active steps to strengthen the PA.
We call on all the parties to use the constructive spirit built at the AHLC to further address the underlying causes of conflict, and make progress on the political track.
A political horizon is urgently needed. Improvement of the economic situation alone will not solve the conflict.
The two-state solution is still the only viable solution to secure the rights, safety and prosperity of both Israelis and Palestinians.