Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen in the Security Council VTC meeting on the Middle East (2334), December 21

22.12.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

Let me start by thanking Nickolay Mladenov [UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process] for his briefing. As always, you were very clear. Thank you for your tireless efforts. I carefully listened to your final remarks. It is very good that you continue to have the vision of 1994 as your point of reference.

I don't have much to add to what I have said over the last two years. Things have not become any better. Germany has a principled position. As you know, we defend the rules-based international order. Conflicts should be resolved politically and based on international law, which comprise resolutions adopted by the Security Council. From our perspective, resolutions are not a menu à la carte. One cannot pick and choose and forget about the last parameter Resolution 2334, or Resolution 478 with regard to Jerusalem, or Resolution 497 with regard to the Golan Heights. We believe that the implementation of landmark Resolution 2334 remains the only viable way forward.

With regard to the implementation of 2334, we continue to be deeply concerned by the negative trends on the ground, which are increasingly threatening the two-state solution: annexation plans, settlement expansion, demolitions, seizures, evictions, plans to retroactively legalize illegal settlement outposts or to take over private Palestinian land by declaring it “state land”. We are also deeply concerned about rockets that are fired into Israel, violence, incitement and the absence of a solution for Gaza. We condemn all attacks against Israel by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups.

Over the past four years, since the adoption of 2334, plans for more than 28,000 settlement units have been advanced or approved in Area C and East Jerusalem. Tenders have been announced for some 12,000 units and the construction of more than 6,000 new units began in Area C.

This leads me to a question to Nickolay: Resolution 2334 already warned about “entrenching a one-state reality”. Taking into consideration that Israeli settlement activities including in sensitive areas around East Jerusalem, like Givat Hamatos, Har Homa or E1, which effectively prevent a contiguous Palestinian state, do you still believe in a in a two-state solution? Are you closer to what John Kerry's thoughts were when he was Secretary of State and was very frustrated about developments? We have followed very closely the Israeli-Arab rapprochement. Kelly Craft [US Ambassador] just outlined how many countries are now recognizing Israel. This is a most welcome development.

While preparing for this meeting, I picked up a small but significant story in The Economist from the 12th of December about a Israeli football club, Beitar Jerusalem. According to The Economist, it is the most racist club in Israel. Fans burnt down the club offices in 2013 when Beitar Jerusalem signed two Muslim players. Just a few weeks ago, the cousin of the de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates purchased 50 percent of Beitar Jerusalem with the blessing of an Israeli rabbi. I find it is a spectacular Israeli-Arab accomplishment. There are other spectacular examples of cooperation. You may remember when Germany had the Council Presidency in April 2019, we invited the Israeli-Palestinian NGO EcoPeace Middle East to brief the Council on peacebuilding efforts through cooperation in the specific area of water conservation. It was one of my highlights in this Council to have an NGO with an Israeli, a Palestinian and a Jordanian represented.

We will continue our joint efforts with our European and Arab partners, France, Egypt and Jordan in facilitating a path back towards credible dialogue and serious, meaningful and effective negotiations about all final status issues and on the basis of the internationally agreed parameters. We support the efforts of the Middle East Quartet and explicitly want to thank Special Coordinator Mladenov for his active engagement in exploring and consulting with all relevant actors on the best path forward, including an international conference or any other multilateral format to enable the parties to resume meaningful dialogue and negotiations. Thank you for a job really well done.

Finally, UNRWA remains a major provider of stability in the region. Therefore, Germany has contributed 200 million US dollars to the agency in 2020 and we call on other countries, in particular from the Gulf, to provide more financial support in order to enable UNRWA to continue its critical work.


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