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Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter at the plenary meeting of the General Assembly on the situation in the Middle East and the question of Palestine, May 20

20.05.2021 - Speech

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Mr. President,

The major escalation of violence in the past days has led to a high number of civilian deaths and injured, including women and children, in Israel and Gaza. Germany strongly condemns the rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel, which have killed and injured civilians in Israel. The indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas and other terrorist groups at Israeli population centers is unacceptable and must cease immediately. Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself against these attacks, which are continuing still today.  

We deeply deplore the killing and injury of Palestinian civilians, including many women and children.

Our first priority must be the immediate cessation of all violence and the implementation of a ceasefire. The fighting must stop, and it must stop now.

Germany supports all efforts aimed at ending the ongoing violence and achieving an immediate cessation of hostilities. Foreign Minister Maas was today in the region to discuss the situation with leaders in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

We are also gravely concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the current hostilities on the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza. They have resulted in a large number of civilian casualties, in the displacement of more than 72,000 persons and in damage to vital infrastructure. It is essential that civilians and critical infrastructure such as medical facilities, emergency shelters and schools are duly protected. We reiterate that any military operation must respect the principle of proportionality.

An immediate ceasefire is urgently needed in order to protect civilians and to ensure safe, full and unhindered humanitarian access in Gaza. Germany is supporting the civilian population in Gaza with 40 million Euros in humanitarian aid through UNRWA and WFP.

We remain deeply concerned about the situation in Jerusalem, where violent clashes have taken place in recent days, including in the Old City and on and around the Temple Mount / Haram al Sharif, including the Al Aqsa Mosque. We are also preoccupied by the increase in violence in the occupied West Bank since the postponement of the Palestinian elections. These tensions predate the current escalation of the conflict and must be addressed with a sense of urgency.

We remain seriously concerned about the threat of evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and have repeatedly urged Israel to cease all settlement activities, demolitions, confiscations and evictions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in East Jerusalem, which are illegal under international law, constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten to make a negotiated two-state solution impossible.

We recall the special significance of the Holy Sites and reiterate that the historic status quo of the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif must be fully respected and upheld in line with previous understandings and with respect to Jordan's special role.

The most serious escalation in Gaza and Israel in years underscores the urgent need to address the underlying root causes of the conflict in order to avoid future escalation and recurrent hostilities.

Germany remains committed to a negotiated two-state solution in line with international law, relevant UN resolutions and internationally agreed parameters, where two sovereign, democratic and independent states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace and security within secure and recognized borders on the basis of the 4 June 1967 lines with Jerusalem as the future capital of both states.

Germany will continue working closely with Israel and the Palestinian Authority in order to help de-escalate tensions that have built up in the past weeks, explore space for re-engagement between the parties and promote confidence-building measures with a view to restoring a genuine political horizon and to facilitating a path back towards serious and meaningful negotiations on all final status issues.

Only a negotiated, just and viable political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will end these devastating cycles of violence and enable all Israelis and Palestinians to live in lasting peace and security.

Germany aligns itself with the statement delivered by the Head of the EU Delegation on behalf of the European Union.

 

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