Thank you Special Coordinator Wennesland for your briefing.
Last week Norway chaired the yearly ministerial meeting of the donor group for Palestine – the AHLC- here in New York. The AHLC urged the Israelis, Palestinians, and international partners to take steps to restore a political horizon for peace, as a matter of urgency. The need to improve cooperation, the situation on the ground, as well as strengthening Palestinian institutions were emphasised.
While some recent progress has been made on trade issues, work permits, and Palestinian reform plans, it is clear that the situation is challenging, and more concrete progress is needed.
Norway welcomes Prime Minister Lapid’s support to the two-state solution, in his speech to the General Assembly last week. And, that from the same rostrum, President Abbas recognised this statement as a positive step- reiterating the same commitment from Palestine. We are convinced that a two-state solution, based on the 1967 borders is the best way to ensure the rights and safety of both Palestinians, and Israelis.
Since we last met, there has been little progress towards the implementation of resolution 2334. As the Special Coordinator’s has indicated: settlement building, demolitions, and evictions have continued apace. Let me underline that this illegal settlement activity not only erodes trust, but fuels and deepens tensions. And undermines the two-state solution.
We are particularly concerned by plans to legalise dozens of farm outposts in the West Bank. Settlements and outposts remain violations of international humanitarian law. They destroy the fabric of communities, and break apart territorial continuity for a Palestinian state. We condemn any and all settler violence, and harassment against Palestinians.
Norway would also like to reiterate our deep concern over the situation in Masafer Yatta. Movement restrictions impede children’s access to education. Teachers are denied access to their classrooms, and children must walk long distances to reach school safely. This is unacceptable. We encourage the Israeli authorities to remove restrictions, and revoke all eviction and demolition orders in accordance with international humanitarian law.
We are troubled also by the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank, and the clear risk that it could spiral out of control. Earlier today, several people were killed and many more injured in Jenin. So far in 2022, more than 80 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank, according to OCHA.
While we recognise Israel’s legitimate security concerns, we call for restraint and proportionality. Force must only be used when it is necessary, in a manner which minimises harm against civilians- including children- and preserves life.
I also want to draw attention to the five prisoners executed in Gaza on 4 September. The use of the death penalty is cruel and fails to provide deterrence. Let me underline that this practice is simply unacceptable and must be stopped immediately.
There is also a need to end the internal Palestinian division, and strengthen the Palestinian Authority. Including by ensuring democratic renewal and stronger institutions.
Finally, let me reaffirm Norway’s commitment to the two-state solution. We will continue to work towards this goal.