Thanks to Special Coordinator Tor Wennesland for his briefing. My statement today will focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I will also briefly address the situation in Syria and Yemen.
Throughout Norway’s membership of the Security Council for 2021 and 2022, we have regularly stated our clear positions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle East Peace Process. We have worked to bring the parties together, encouraged de-escalation and called for a resumption of direct negotiations. We are troubled by the lack of progress toward peace that we have seen during the past year.
We are deeply concerned by the tense situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the high number of civilians killed over the last year, and already this year, including many young people. Violence against civilians must come to an end. The status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem must be upheld and respected.
We are also concerned by the Israeli government’s recent announcements of punitive measures against the Palestinian Authority.
Israel’s withholding and seizure of funds belonging to the Palestinians will weaken Palestinian institutions and place additional strains on the Palestinian economy. Ultimately, this will bring harm to ordinary Palestinians. We strongly urge Israel to respect signed agreements and transfer all funds belonging to the Palestinians.
Israel’s announcement of a moratorium on Palestinian construction in Area C in the West Bank is also unacceptable. It violates Palestinians’ right to use and develop their lands. It further limits economic growth. We also reject the Israeli announcement of measures against organizations that carry out humanitarian work in the West Bank. Civil society organizations and humanitarian actors must be allowed to work freely.
To further limit the freedom of movement for representatives of the Palestinian Authority is also unacceptable. This will impair the Palestinians’ ability to carry out their international activities.
We believe that the Israeli government’s decision to impose punitive measures against the Palestinian people following the request by the UN General Assembly of an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice is unacceptable, and must be reversed.
The path out of this conflict and the path towards peace does not lie in the denial of rights and legitimacy of others. It is not found in illegal unilateral steps that change the demographic composition or the status of the occupied areas. The path is not created through the use of violence. A solution to this conflict will only come through dialogue, trust-building and cooperation.
We encourage the members of the Negev Forum to use the spirit of regional cooperation, last demonstrated in Abu Dhabi on 9-10 January, to contribute to a more constructive path toward a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I once again reiterate our firm belief that a negotiated two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, relevant UN resolutions, and international parameters is the best way to achieve lasting peace, and ensure the rights, safety, and independence of both Israelis and Palestinians.
I will now turn to the situation in Syria. An important file during our tenure in the Security Council, was the penholdership with Ireland on the resolution on cross-border humanitarian assistance to northwest Syria. We are very pleased that the mandate was extended multiple times over the last two years, lastly adopted unanimously on 9 January. The adoption is crucial for more than four million people in northwest-Syria who are dependent om humanitarian assistance.
Regarding the situation in Yemen; we continue to be concerned about the dire humanitarian situation. It is crucial to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to Yemenis in need. All actors must refrain from actions that can lead to escalation of the armed conflict and close the window for dialogue. We hope to see a renewal of the truce, and we support all actors in their efforts of finding a solution to the conflict. The UN Special envoy has Norway’s full support.