Thank you Special Coordinator Wennesland for your thought provoking briefing, and for being here in person today.
Norway is concerned about continued violence in Israel and Palestine. These ongoing tensions are having major consequences. According to OCHA, 2022 is the deadliest year since 2005 for Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
We are particularly concerned by the increasing number of settler attacks, most recently in Hebron. Such violent attacks are unacceptable, and fuel tensions.
Daily life becomes unbearable for many Palestinians, who no longer dare to access their land. Over time, this coercive environment may force the local population to leave. We urge Israeli authorities to take stronger measures to prevent settler violence, and to bring those responsible to account.
Norway condemns all violence against civilians- including acts of terrorism. The recent terror attacks in Jerusalem are indefensible. We call on both Israeli and Palestinian political leaders to take the necessary steps to protect civilians, and deescalate the situation.
It is also essential that the historic status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem is upheld and respected.
Let me reiterate our concern regarding the situation in Masafer Yatta. Movement restrictions are having severe consequences for the residents in the area. And just last week Israeli authorities demolished a school – seriously undermining Palestinian children’s access to education. We once again urge Israel to revoke all eviction and demolition orders, and to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law.
We are encouraged by the Palestinian factions’ commitment to reconciliation, expressed once again in the Algiers agreement last month. Palestinian reconciliation and unification are essential for stability, and to advance the two-state solution.
The legitimacy of the PA and its institutions must be ensured. We therefore urge all actors to continue with concrete steps to enable Palestinian unity, and the holding of elections.
In closing, let me remind that many of the negative developments on the ground are symptoms of lack of a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And as we heard from the political coordinator, status quo is not an option. There is a pressing need for a political horizon, and to restart the peace process. We urge the incoming Israeli Government to contribute to creating a horizon for peace, and to engage with the Palestinian leadership.
Norway continues to support the Palestinian state building effort, and a two-state solution- we will continue to work towards this goal. We are convinced that the two-state-solution, based on the 1967 borders, is the best way to ensure the rights, and safety, of both Israelis and Palestinians.