Thank you Deputy Special Coordinator Hastings for your briefing.
Long-term solutions are needed to bring peace and prosperity to the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
The two-state solution – based on the 1967 lines - remains the only viable pathway to settle this conflict.
We welcome the recently announced commitments by Israel to increasing the number of permits for Palestinians in Gaza to work in Israel; rolling out digital infrastructure for 4G connectivity in the West Bank and Gaza; resuming discussions in the Joint Economic Committee; and increasing access to Allenby Bridge.
The overcrowding and severe delays seen at the crossing last week underscore the urgent need to enhance the efficiency of its operations. We commend also the efforts underway on the measures that were agreed in the meeting of the Donor Group in Brussels last May.
And we urge the parties- and their partners- to make serious progress before the planned ministerial meeting in New York in September.
We welcome the announcement of increased financial support by the United States to UNRWA, which delivers critical services to millions of vulnerable Palestine refugees.
And we applaud the US for its intention to extend funding to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, which Norway has long supported.
While these are positive steps,they cannot replace the need for a comprehensive peace process. One that addresses the underlying drivers of conflict. There is an urgent need for a political horizon with the ultimate goal of establishing the two-state solution.
The settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law. They undermine the prospects of a two-state solution, and they escalate the conflict. Norway repeats its call to Israel to halt all settlement expansions, evictions, and demolitions.
And we remain deeply concerned by attempts by Israeli settler groups to establish outposts in Area C of the West Bank. We welcome Israeli authorities’ efforts to stop these recent attempts.
The situation in Masafer Yatta, however, with the planned demolition orders and expulsion of 1,200 civilians, remains alarming. We call on Israel to immediately halt these plans.
It is imperative in all circumstances to protect civilians. As of 30 June, 60 Palestinians have been killed this year by Israeli security forces in the West Bank. We call on Israel to implement effective practices to protect all civilians, in particular children.
We will continue to call for accountability on the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Norway continues to support the normalisation of relations between Israel and several Arab states.
We hope these changes in the region will help pave the way for resuming meaningful negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinians must be involved in, and benefit from, the process.
Finally, let me note the important mediation efforts to establish the maritime delimitation line between Israel and Lebanon. Norway encourages the governments of Lebanon and Israel to swiftly come to a mutual agreement for the benefit of both countries. This should also help solve the outstanding issues on the land border.
We strongly oppose the use of any military means in and around the disputed areas- which could escalate to a new regional conflict. Relevant Security Council resolutions must also be fully respected and adhered to.