Thank you Assistant Secretary-General Mohamed Khaled Khiari for your briefing.
These last few weeks have seen a troubling resurgence in violence in the occupied West Bank. In early July, Israeli military forces carried out one of the most extensive operations in the West Bank in more than 20 years, killing twelve Palestinians – including children – and injuring more than 140 others in Jenin refugee camp, deep inside Area A. The operation resulted in massive damage on buildings and infrastructure. Many lost their homes and over 3,500 people were forced to flee the camp.
If current trends continue, 2023 will be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since UN records began in 2004. Several Israelis have been killed and injured in attacks by Palestinian militants.
Both Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live in security. While we recognize Israel's legitimate security concerns, we reiterate that Israeli security forces must exercise the utmost restraint in its use of force. International human rights standards must be respected.
Violence against civilians, whether perpetrated by Israeli security forces, Israeli settlers or Palestinian militants, is unacceptable and cannot be justified.
The Israeli settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law and must stop.
Israeli settlements and settler violence are fueling violence in the West Bank. They undermine the prospects for an independent and contiguous Palestinian state. Recent approvals of new housing units in the settlements, as well as administrative changes that simplify the system for planning and establishing new settlements, are unacceptable.
The expansion of settlements is imperiling the possibility of resuming negotiations on a two-state solution. It is also blurring the administrative distinction between Israel and occupied Palestinian territory. The result is a situation on the ground that is increasingly resembling an inequitable one-state reality.
30 years ago, the Oslo agreement was signed. It was a step towards peace and a two-state solution. Many things were different back then; the situation on the ground, the politics, and even the world. There was especially one important factor present, which led the Israelis and Palestinians to come together around a table, for months, to negotiate; despite their differences and skepticism of one another. These Palestinian and Israeli political figures and leaders had this factor in common; they had a vision for peace.
A vision for peace for their respective people. A vision for peace for their children, and grandchildren, and future generations coming after them. Because of their vision, and prospects of living next to each other in a two-state solution, they were able to navigate in a complex and challenging path towards peace.
Today, there is a whole generation of Israelis and Palestinians, who were not born at the time of the Oslo agreement. Some of them have not only lost faith in a two-state solution, they never had any such faith in the first place. Many young people resort to violence.
Violence is a symptom of a lack of vision for a political solution. At the same time, the violence is leading the parties away from peace and a two-state solution.
I call on Israeli and Palestinian leaders: it is your responsibility to make sure that the generations growing up have a vision for something else than distrust, violence and destruction. The current situation is in no way sustainable. It is in neither party’s interest to keep this conflict unresolved. You need to make sure that your people have a vision for a peaceful solution.
I fear that our discussions in these meetings are doomed to repeat themselves unless we find a way to address the root causes of the conflict. Primarily, that requires taking steps towards ending the Israeli occupation.
A strong and unified Palestinian leadership, with renewed democratic legitimacy, is also necessary. It is also crucial to continue to strengthen and support the Palestinian Authority, its institutions, and the Palestinian economy. We welcome that the Israeli government expresses that they too, want a strengthened PA.
Norway will continue our efforts to revitalize the peace process. We encourage for increased support to Palestinian institution building and to UNRWA. Norway will convene the next Ministerial Meeting of the AHLC on 20 September in New York. Almost to the day 30 years after the first Oslo Accord, and in the spirit of those who negotiated it, this will be an opportunity for Ministers to discuss how we can, together, increase our efforts to revive the vision for peace and bring this conflict to an end.
Let me reiterate Norway’s clear position, 76 years since the partition plan was approved by the UN: We believe that a negotiated two-state solution based on the 1967 lines, relevant UN resolutions, and international parameters is the best way to achieve lasting peace.