Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen at the Security Council meeting on the Middle East

22.05.2019 - Speech

(check against delivery)

Thank you very much, Madame President. Thank you for coming, and I think your presence here underlines your country's commitment to the issue that is at stake today. 

Germany remains steadfast in its commitment to Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state.

The German government has recently underlined its support to Israel in a declaration on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Israel becoming a member of the UN.

We condemn all attacks on Israel in the strongest possible terms, including the recent firing of rockets from Gaza, which put Israel’s security and the lives of civilians at risk.

Germany will not be silent when Israel’s right to exist is questioned or compromised.

Let me underline that, from our perspective, only a two state solution can meet the aspirations of both parties and deliver peace and security in a sustainable way. EU Member States are united in stating that any future plan should consider the parameters as they have also been included in Resolution 2334 in order to be successful. We believe this is essential for Israel's security. It is indispensable that a solution is negotiated and guarantees the right to self-determination also of the Palestinians.

Any Peace Plan should not preclude solutions negotiated between the two parties.

We are deeply concerned about developments that increasingly undermine the prospects for a two-state solution and contribute to entrenching a one-state reality which cannot be in anybody’s interest.

And I can only repeat what my French colleague just said before with regard to the developments on the ground. We are coming closer to the point of no return.

The latest unilateral actions and decisions – the Israeli decision to partly withhold Palestinian tax revenues, the rejection of any tax revenue transfers by the PA, the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the US recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights – have all added to growing tensions and are not helpful in an already fragile situation.

We reiterate our position that settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law and undermine the prospects of a two-state-solution.

The continuous expansion of settlement activity by Israel in the Palestinian territories is a matter of great concern to us. This includes the recent approvals of construction of and tenders for thousands of new housing units in settlements in the West Bank.

We call upon Israel to end the expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts and the demolition and seizure of Palestinian owned structures. These actions jeopardize the prospects for a peace agreement on the basis of a two-state solution by creating enclaves, obstructing Palestinian development and leading to frustration and despair.

We are also extremely concerned about statements on a possible annexation of parts of the West Bank. Should such statements be translated into government policy or law, Germany would see this as a clear violation of international law.

We also remain deeply concerned by the dire economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Protests in Gaza have to be peaceful and rights of demonstrators to express freely and peacefully their opinion have to be respected

 At the same time, the right to peaceful protest must not be used as a pretext for incitement or exploited in order to commit violent acts.

In this context, we call on all sides to refrain from the use of excessive force.

Let me also come to the very impressive statement that we heard from Commissioner Krähenbühl. We are deeply concerned by what he had to report to the Council on the current challenges to the mission of UNRWA.

We believe that UNRWA remains indispensable for providing humanitarian assistance and essential services in the Palestinian territory but also in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Also, what you mentioned about East Jerusalem is worrying.

We would like to commend UNRWA’s efforts to overcome the recent financial crisis and its tremendous work in the light of this crisis.

In continuing to provide services that encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance, UNRWA remains key to stability in the region.

We continue to firmly support the mandate of UNRWA and encourage others to similarly continue to show their political and financial support to the Agency’s work.

In this context, let me again say that we very much regret that the United States, which has been a constant donor to UNRWA, is no longer contributing. The question that I asked before to the US delegation who they believe will teach the 200,000 and more students in Gaza, who would no longer get UNRWA schooling. If the funding is not there, who would provide the teaching has not been responded to. I am afraid, and I think this is also what my French colleague just said, that it would be Hamas and others that would teach the children. So we are very grateful that UNRWA does what it does under very difficult circumstances. Germany is also proud, as Kuwait and France said, that we are among the top donors for the important work.

In this context, I have a question for Mr. Krähenbühl, Mr. Greenblatt mentioned that you had put the donor conference on the same date as the Bahrain conference. Maybe you can clarify that.

On the situation of the Palestinian authority, we look forward to working with the new Palestinian government. The intra-Palestinian reconciliation process remains in deadlock, but progress is urgently needed in order to build strong and inclusive Palestinian institutions This includes the renewal of democratic legitimacy through well-prepared elections, which are overdue.

It is also important that the Palestinian Authority remains financially stable and functioning. This is important for the delivery of health, education and security to millions of Palestinians, which we believe is in the interest of both - Palestinians and Israelis.

We strongly urge all parties to de-escalate, exercise restraint and refrain from provocative rhetoric and actions.

To finish, let me share the concern of the Secretary-General in his report about the weakening of the international consensus to achieve the realization of a negotiated two-state solution based on the internationally agreed principles.

Joint efforts to restore a political perspective for the resumption of the peace process are urgently needed. We support any attempt to restart meaningful direct talks and negotiations between the parties with the objective of creating a lasting peace based on the internationally agreed parameters.

At the same time, we have to counter collectively the negative developments on the ground that are undermining the viability of a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the internationally agreed parameters.

Thank you very much.

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