Remarks by Ambassador Jürgen Schulz during the Security Council VTC Meeting on the Situation in the Middle East- March 30, 2020

31.03.2020 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

First, I would like to express my concern at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. We welcome the Israeli-Palestinian cooperation against this common threat which knows no boundaries and endangers Israelis and Palestinians alike.

We commend the UN and its efforts to support Israeli-Palestinian cooperation against COVID-19 and the enhancement of medical capacities where they lack most. We echo the call of the Secretary-General to put aside mistrust and animosity and to focus on dialogue and cooperation in order to enable joint responses to COVID-19.

We need to support UNRWA in this situation. UNRWA plays a critical role in the current pandemic, but lacks funding to handle the realistic scenario of a deterioration of the humanitarian situation caused by a massive outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Palestinian refugee camps and Gaza.

 With regard to the implementation of Resolution 2334 we remain greatly concerned by the situation on the ground and the general state-of-play in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Germany remains convinced that a negotiated two-state solution based on international law and on the internationally agreed parameters 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.

To build a just and lasting solution, the final status issues, including the issues related to borders, the status of Jerusalem, security and refugees, must be resolved through direct negotiations between both parties.

Unilateral actions creating facts on the ground neither help reaching a just and lasting solution nor do they lead to sustainable peace and security.

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

The ongoing Israeli occupation and the continued settlement activities in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 remains one of the main obstacles to a political settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

We reiterate our position that Israeli settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law and undermine the prospects for ending the occupation and achieving a negotiated two-state-solution.

We reiterate our call on the Israeli government to halt the settlement construction plans for Har Homa and Givat Hamatos as well as for the area E1 and abide by Resolution 2334. It bears recalling: Severing East Jerusalem from the West Bank would severely undermine the prospects for a viable and contiguous Palestinian state within the framework of a negotiated two-state solution.

We call upon Israel to end the expansion of settlements, the legalization of settlement outposts, the confiscation of Palestinian land and the demolition and seizure of Palestinian-owned structures.

We remain extremely concerned about repeated statements,  plans and steps on the ground towards the annexation of parts of the occupied Palestinian territories.

We strongly advise the Israeli government against the annexation of or the “extension of Israeli sovereignty” to occupied Palestinian territories as this would constitute a clear violation of international law and have serious, negative repercussions on the viability of the two-state solution and the entire peace process.

We reiterate that Germany will continue to distinguish between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967 and that we will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, unless agreed to by both 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 which also constitute obstacles to achieving peace.

Germany condemns all attacks on Israel in the strongest possible terms, including the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel as recently as last Friday (27 March).

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad must stop firing rockets into Israel. There is no justification for the firing of rockets into Israel or any other form of terrorism – not at any time, and certainly not at a moment of global crisis.

If we want to prevent a further deterioration of the situation on the ground, we have to find ways to revive the political process.

We reaffirm our belief that any viable proposal for direct negotiations must be accepted by both parties. The previous resolutions of this Council reflect both international law as well as parameters for negotiations that both parties have previously accepted in negotiations.

We think that establishing or reviving a multilateral format, such as the Quartet, would enable us to discuss the recent US proposals and any other proposals, in particular further concrete proposals from the Palestinian side.

Such discussions could be helpful towards the shared objective of creating an environment conducive to the resumption of meaningful and genuine negotiations between the parties to resolve all permanent status issues and to achieve a negotiated, just and viable solution which is acceptable for both sides, Israelis and Palestinians.

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