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Joint Statement by Current and Former EU Members of the UN Security Council (Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany and Ireland) on the Situation in the Middle East, January 26, 2021

26.01.2021 - Press release

Check Against Delivery

Delivered by Ireland

I would like to make the following statement today on behalf of the three current EU Members of the Security Council, Estonia, France and Ireland joined by former EU Members of the Council, Belgium and Germany.

We welcome the nomination of Tor Wennesland as Special Coordinator and wish him well in his new role. We are determined to fully support his work.

We welcome the recent decree by President Abbas on holding legislative, presidential and National Council elections in the coming months, starting with legislative elections on 22 May.  Participative, representative and accountable democratic institutions based on respect of the rule of law and human rights are key for Palestinian self-determination and state-building. We call upon all Palestinian factions to unequivocally commit to democratic principles prior to elections.

The EU has consistently supported and funded the work of the Central Elections Commission in order to prepare for holding free, fair and inclusive elections for all Palestinians. We stand ready to engage with relevant actors to support the electoral process. We call on the Israeli authorities to facilitate the holding of elections across all the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.

We are deeply concerned at the recent announcements by Israel on settlements.

Israel's latest decisions to advance plans for the approval and construction of thousands of settlement units in the West Bank and East-Jerusalem, including in Givat Hamatos, are contrary to international law.

We call on the government of Israel to reverse these negative decisions at this critical and sensitive time and to halt all continued settlement expansion, including in East Jerusalem and sensitive areas such as Har Homa, Givat Hamatos and E1 as well as demolitions, including of EU/donor funded-structures, and to dismantle outposts erected since 2001.

We call upon both parties to avoid unilateral steps that could undermine the two state-solution. As stated consistently, we will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.

We call upon the Government of Israel to show leadership, seizing the positive dynamics of the normalisation agreements of the recent months, and call upon both parties to make concrete and mutual steps to rebuild trust and confidence, which is necessary for an eventual resumption of meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

We remain committed to supporting all efforts aimed at achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East based on international law, relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and agreed parameters. We will continue to engage with all relevant stakeholders including Members of the Quartet, and partners in the region, particularly Egypt and Jordan, which met with France and Germany in Cairo on January 11.

We reiterate our deep concern regarding UNRWA’s critical financial situation, and appeal to all States, including from the region, to consider making or increasing their contributions to the Agency.

I would like to make the following statement today on behalf of the four EU Members of the Security Council Belgium, Estonia, France and Germany joined today by Ireland and Norway as incoming Members of the Security Council.

Echoing the UN Special coordinator’s concerns, we are deeply worried by the Israeli authorities’ decision to open the bidding process for the construction of housing units for an entirely new settlement at Givat Hamatos, which is a key location between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. 

This decision adds to the significant expansion of settlements announced by Israel on October 14 and 15 with the planned construction of close to 5.000 housing units in the occupied West Bank, in areas in and around Jerusalem. It also adds to the large-scale demolition by Israeli forces of more than 70 structures in Khirbet Hamsa al-Foqa, in the northern Jordan Valley on November 3. This confirms once again the regrettable trend of confiscations and demolitions since the beginning of the year in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. It comes on top of the threat of demolition of the Palestinian school in the Ras Al-Teen community in the central West Bank, which has been co-funded by the EU and several EU Member States.

We call on Israel to reverse these negative decisions at this critical and sensitive time and to halt all continued settlement expansion, including in East Jerusalem and sensitive areas such as Har Homa, Givat Hamatos and E1 as well as demolitions, including of EU funded-structures.  

Settlements are illegal under international law. As stated consistently, we will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.

Any settlement construction will cause serious damage to the prospects for a viable and contiguous Palestinian State and, more broadly, to the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution in line with the internationally agreed parameters and with Jerusalem as the future capital of two states. 

Settlement activity will lead to the continued weakening of efforts to rebuild trust and confidence between the parties which are necessary for an eventual resumption of meaningful negotiations. We welcome yesterday’s announcement by the Palestinian Authority to restore cooperation based on the signed agreements. We urge Israel to show responsibility and to also take steps to underscore its commitment to these agreements, seizing the positive dynamics of the normalisation agreements of the recent weeks.

We reiterate our deep concern regarding UNRWA’s critical financial situation, and appeal to all States, including from the region, to consider making or increasing their contributions to the Agency.

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