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Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter during the UN Security Council Meeting on the Middle East, September 29, 2020

29.09.2020 - Speech

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We offer our deepest condolences on the passing of the Emir of the State of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Sabah, a tireless mediator in the Middle East.

Let me express our thanks to Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov for his briefing and his important work.

Germany welcomes the recent signing of the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and between Israel and Bahrain. We acknowledge the role played by the United States in this regard and express our hope that these agreements will contribute towards achieving peace and stability in the Middle East. The momentum generated by the signing of these accords should now be focused on finally reaching a just, lasting and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of international law, relevant UN resolutions and internationally agreed parameters. Normalization must not result in consolidating the status quo, but it should rather go along with the resumption of peace talks.

Germany remains committed to a negotiated two-state solution, where two sovereign, democratic and independent states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders on the basis of the 1967 lines. This is the only viable and most realistic path to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis for a life in peace, dignity and with equal rights. We call on both parties to recommit to their signed agreements and to fully restore the cooperation under the Oslo Accords and the Paris Protocol. Together with our European and Arab partners Egypt, France and Jordan, we will continue our efforts and offer our active support and our good offices in facilitating a path back to a credible dialogue and towards a negotiated, peaceful settlement. At our meeting last week in Amman we emphasized that such serious, meaningful and effective negotiations must be based on international law and agreed parameters and either be conducted directly between the parties or under a UN umbrella, including the Middle East Quartet. We have taken note of the call by President Abbas on the Secretary-General to convene an international conference early next year. Germany would be willing to participate in such a conference and encourages the Secretary-General and Special Coordinator Mladenov to consult with all relevant parties.

We reiterate our position that Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law. They severely undermine the prospects for ending the occupation and for a viable and contiguous Palestinian state within the framework of a negotiated two-state solution. We trust that Israeli annexation plans are truly and permanently suspended. We call upon Israel to end the expansion of settlements, in particular in critical areas around East Jerusalem, and the legalization of settlement outposts in order to prevent a de facto annexation. We are particularly concerned about the ongoing confiscation and demolition of Palestinian-owned structures and properties in Area C of the West Bank. Such practices, as currently under way in so-called Firing Zone 918 in the South Hebron Hills, lead to the forced eviction and displacement of vulnerable Palestinian residents in the midst of the pandemic. In some cases they contravene existing property rights of Palestinian residents in the area, rendering these practices incompatible with international law. Any changes to the legal and traditional status quo on the Haram as-Sharif/Temple Mountain as well as in the city of Hebron would further erode the substance of signed agreements and mutual trust at a time, when the Covid-19 crisis warrants close cooperation.

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, provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric. In this context, we reiterate Germany’s condemnation of all attacks and threats against Israel by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including the repeated firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. Israel has the right to defend itself against such acts in a proportional manner.

Finally, we keep stressing that intra-Palestinian reconciliation remains key for achieving a negotiated two-state solution. Gaza and the occupied West Bank must be reunited under a single government, democratic legitimacy of Palestinian institutions must be renewed, and governance and responsiveness to the needs of the Palestinian population must be strengthened. We therefore welcome the recent agreement to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. We hope that such elections will take place soon.

 

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