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Statement by Ambassador Jürgen Schulz at the UN Security Council Debate on the Middle East

20.11.2019 - Speech

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Germany condemns all attacks on Israel in the strongest possible terms, including the recent firing of more than 400 rockets from Gaza into Israel. Such attacks are directed against Israel’s security and cause casualties among Israeli civilians. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad must stop firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. There is no excuse for the firing of rockets into Israel.  Germany remains steadfast in its commitment to Israel’s security. We will not be silent whenever Israel’s security or right to exist is questioned or compromised. While we stress Israel’s right to self-defense and its right to react adequately to attacks against its territory, we are also concerned by reports about the killing of innocent civilians in Gaza. We have taken note of the announcement of investigations into incidents with civilian victims by the Israeli Defense Forces.

Last week’s escalation in and around Gaza is deeply concerning. It reminds us once again of the urgent need for a sustainable long-term solution to the humanitarian, economic and political crisis in Gaza. As Ms. Hary illustrated in her briefing, freedom of movement of persons and goods is an essential aspect of any resolution of the dire humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza. We call upon both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to do their respective part in order to improve the situation in Gaza. 

A political solution is not only required for Gaza but for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole. Germany remains firmly committed to a negotiated two-state solution based on the internationally agreed parameters. We believe the two-state solution is the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that meets Israeli and Palestinian security needs, fulfills Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, ends the occupation that began in 1967, resolves all permanent status issues, and guarantees equal rights for all inhabitants. We welcome and support any initiative which aims at reviving the peace process as long as it is based on a commitment to a viable two-state solution, as internationally agreed, and as long as it is acceptable to both parties, Israelis and Palestinians.

We also support any attempt to restart meaningful direct talks and negotiations between the parties with the objective of reaching a just and lasting solution. Foregoing the most controversial questions of the peace process by taking them off the table or creating facts on the ground will, however, not lead to a sustainable peace.

We therefore call on the parties to the conflict but also on all other international stakeholders to refrain from taking unilateral measures which risk undermining the viability of a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the internationally agreed parameters. 

We believe that international law provides the basis and framework for all political negotiations and for finding an agreement which is acceptable for both parties. One of the main obstacles to a political settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the ongoing Israeli occupation and the continued settlement activities in the territories occupied since 1967. We reiterate our position that Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law and undermine the prospects for a negotiated two-state-solution.

The continuing expansion of settlement activity, including the recent approval of 2,300 new housing units in October 2019 by the Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration, and the legalization of settlement outposts by Israel are a matter of serious concern to us.  We also remain gravely concerned about increased demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, and evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem. We call upon Israel to end the expansion of settlements, the legalization of settlement outposts, the confiscation of Palestinian land and evictions from and the demolition and seizure of Palestinian-owned structures. We remain extremely concerned about repeated statements alluding to or even announcing an intended annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank.

Should such statements turn into actual government policy or law, it would constitute a clear violation of international law. We strongly advise any Israeli government against taking any steps in this direction. That could have serious negative repercussions on the viability of the two-state solution and the entire peace process. We reiterate that Germany will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.

Resolution 2334 needs to be fully implemented, not only with regard to settlement activities but also with regard to acts of terror, violence against civilians, incitement, provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric. The increase in violence as well as in provocative rhetoric and actions on both sides is deeply worrying. We strongly urge all sides to de-escalate and exercise restraint and to refrain from provocative rhetoric and actions. With regard to the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount, we recall the paramount importance of maintaining the agreed “status quo” for keeping the peace at these holy sites.

UNRWA remains indispensable to meet the basic needs of Palestine refugees. By providing humanitarian assistance, health services and education, UNRWA contributes to the stability in the region. Germany therefore strongly supports the renewal of UNRWA’s mandate for three years.  As the largest bilateral donor Germany remains firmly committed to UNRWA and continues to significantly contribute to UNRWA’s budget. We encourage others to similarly continue their financial support to the Agency’s crucial work, in particular by disbursing the funds they have pledged.

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