Statement and Right of Reply by Ambassador Günter Sautter in the UN Security Council Meeting on the Middle East, August 25, 2020

25.08.2020 - Speech

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Thank you very much, Nickolay Mladenov for your briefing and excellent work. I would like to make several points. The first one is on the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates have come to a truly historic decision by agreeing to normalize their relations. This is truly good news as it is an important step towards peace in the region. We trust that annexation plans are truly and indefinitely suspended and that this will also include restraint with regard to ongoing settlement expansion or plans to build new settlements.

We see with great concern the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem. This is particularly worrisome against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. Confidence-building steps are needed instead. We believe that a halt to demolition of residential structures in Area C of the West Bank and in East-Jerusalem, as well as approving the construction of housing units for the Palestinian population in Area C, would send an encouraging signal in these times of hardship.

We support Israel´s effort to expand regional cooperation and advance normalization with other Gulf States.

My second remark is on the agenda towards reviving the peace process. We should now use the momentum and the positive dynamics to revive the Middle East Peace Process and to restore a meaningful dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. We want to bring them back on a path towards a negotiated, peaceful settlement. Again: With annexation being off the table, we encourage the Palestinian side to reengage and present their proposals in more depth.

Germany remains convinced that a negotiated two-state solution based on international law, the relevant UN resolutions and the internationally agreed parameters is the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We keep repeating this message because it reflects our strong conviction and firm commitment to the rules-based international order, to the security of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and to the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and statehood.

I would like to propose four elements on how we can work together to seize the momentum and revive the peace process:

First, we need to find ways to resume direct negotiations between the parties. We continue to believe that reactivating the Middle East Quartet would be the best option to discuss the way forward. We reiterate our full support for the efforts of Special Coordinator Mladenov in this regard. Together with our European and Arab partners in the so-called “Munich format”, we stand ready to assist and offer our support in facilitating a path back to dialogue.

Second, we call on Israel to end the expansion of settlements. Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law. They severely undermine the prospects for a two-state-solution by eroding the possibility of establishing a contiguous, independent, and sovereign Palestinian State.

Third, we call on both sides to fully implement resolution 2334 with regard to settlement activities as well as all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terrorism, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric. In this context, we reiterate Germany’s condemnation of all attacks and threats against Israel by Hamas and other terrorist groups, such as the recent rocket attacks and attacks via “incendiary balloons”.

Fourth, we must keep stressing that intra-Palestinian reconciliation also remains key for achieving a negotiated two-state solution. Gaza and the occupied West Bank must be reunited under a single government, the democratic legitimacy of Palestinian institutions renewed, and governance and responsiveness to the needs of the Palestinian population must be strengthened.

Allow me a remark on COVID-19 in Israel and the occupied Palestinean territories. We are concerned about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. We are convinced that particularly now, in this time of crisis, we need more willingness to cooperate on both sides. We call on both parties to resume their coordination and cooperation in the fight against COVID-19. We commend the UN and its agencies, in particular UNRWA, for their efforts to respond to the humanitarian implications of the COVID-19 pandemic in the occupied Palestinian territories.

I would like to say a word on the latest tensions in Gaza. We are concerned about the latest tensions in Gaza / southern Israel and we welcome the mediation efforts by Egypt and the United Nations. It goes without saying that we condemn the attacks against Israeli civilians from Gaza. At the same time, the humanitarian situation in Gaza needs to be urgently improved. What we need now is prudence from all parties and willingness to de-escalate.

Right of reply by Ambassador Günter Sautter in the Security Council meeting on the Middle East, August 25

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Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to exchange views on this important matter. I fully subscribe to the remarks that Anne [Gueguen, French Deputy Permanent Representative] just made for the French Republic.

We fully support the President’s view that the purported US notification is in legal terms null and void. As E3 we have explained our position in a letter to the President of the Security Council:  the US is no longer a JCPoA participant and, therefore, the US cannot activate the snapback mechanism. The status of the US within OP 10 of UNSCR 2231 changed when the US ceased to be a JCPoA participant in 2018. 

Accordingly, the E3 firmly believes that the purported notification under OP 11 of UNSCR 2231 is incapable of having legal effect and so cannot bring into effect the procedure foreseen under OP 11. It flows from this that any decisions and actions which would be taken based on this procedure or on its possible outcome would also be devoid of any legal effect.

Let me add: we are firmly convinced that protecting the JCPoA is of crucial importance. The nuclear deal with Iran is not perfect, but it continues to be the international community’s best tool to prevent a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. This is why we defend this agreement, and this is why we continue to demand that Iran return to full compliance with this agreement.




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